Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has officially endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential race. Rubio’s campaign released a statement announcing the endorsement, which comes at a time when high-profile debate spats between Rubio and rivals Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie have called Rubio’s chances into question.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
In the statement, Rubio praised Brownback as “one of the most conservative governors in the country” and called him “one of the nation’s strongest defenders of the unborn, limited government, and traditional values.”
“Just like Governor Brownback, Marco has consistently defended life, small government and free enterprise throughout his career in public service,” the statement continued. Brownback becomes the first sitting governor to endorse a political candidate in the current election cycle.
Brownback released his own statement announcing the endorsement. “Marco Rubio is a true conservative who can unite the party and defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the fall,” . “In the past, conservatives have been forced to make a choice between their head and their hearts. This year, we are fortunate to not have to make that choice.”
Rubio has a “proven track record of protecting life, defending religious liberty, and undoing Obamacare,” Brownback added. Kansas is set to hold its Republican primary contest on March 5, less than a week after the so-called “Super Tuesday” showdown in 13 states. The state is home to a large amount of evangelical voters, a group that has largely flocked to rival Ted Cruz.
The Brownback administration has proven controversial, both within Kansas and on the national stage. He made headlines by signing three anti-abortion bills into law during his tenure and for stripping anti-discrimination protections from LGBT people last year. Late last year, a poll revealed that only 18 percent of Kansans approve of Brownback.