WASHINGTON — House Republicans head to Florida this week for their annual retreat, straight into the belly of the beast of the 2024 presidential primary campaign.

The Sunshine State is home to both former President Donald Trump, who wants his old job back, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, the conservative young star who hasn’t announced a presidential run but is making not-so-subtle moves to wrest it from him. Trump’s Republican nomination.

As he begins his three-day retreat in Orlando on Sunday, Republicans are desperately trying to stay out of the escalating fray between Trump and DeSantis. They are fighting to maintain control of their slim majority in the House and are fully aware that a big fight between the two GOP heavyweights could split the 222-member conference and distract them from that goal.

“I was able to endorse in the primaries but I have not endorsed. I could support it, but I haven’t,» President Kevin McCarthy said last week in Washington.

Its members are trying to keep their public focus on retaining control of the camera.

«If we don’t have a majority, the president won’t do us any good,» added Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee.

After a better-than-expected performance in the November midterms, Democrats only need to flip five House seats and hold their current ones to regain a majority in 2024. That challenge may be easier for House Republicans with a strong unnamed contender. Trump at the top of the ticket. NBC News reported Friday that New York law enforcement officials were preparing for a possible impeachment of Trump this week; Trump on Saturday called on his supporters to «protest» and «take back our nation» if that happens.

At the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando this week, Republicans will debate their governance message and strategy for the next two years, including how their conference will secure spending cuts without risking a debt default and keep the American public involved in countless oversight investigations into the Biden administration and family.

Panel discussions at the retreat will focus on everything from the growing threat from China and border security to energy and the economy.

“House Republicans are excited to gather for our annual issues conference where we will work to fulfill our commitment to America and create a strong economy, a secure nation, a future built on freedom, and accountable government,” said the Camera. Republican conference chair Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., who is organizing the retreat with the Congressional Institute.

As McCarthy, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and the vast majority of House Republicans choose to stay away from the fledgling primary fight, more than two dozen House lawmakers back Trump, who remains enormously popular with the Republican base. and has consistently led his rivals in polls

Among those who endorsed Trump are Stefanik, the fourth leading Republican; Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, the House Republican Party campaign manager this cycle; Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, a former Trump White House physician; Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio; and conservative Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mary Miller of Illinois, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Harriet Hageman of Wyoming.

Asked what she thought of DeSantis traveling to the state of Iowa, his first in the nation, this month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, one of Trump’s top allies, responded: «Well, he’s the Governor of Florida, so I’m not sure how Florida feels about that. … I am supporting President Trump.”

On St. Patrick’s Day, Florida Republicans, including Reps. Brian Mast, Byron Donalds, Kat Cammack, Neal Dunn, Mike Walz, Corey Mills and Jackson, flocked to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf course, for Palm Beach County Republicans. Lincoln Day Dinner. Trump delivered the keynote address.

But DeSantis has been generating buzz while traveling across the country on a book tour. And many congressional Republicans have been rooting for the former House lawmaker to enter the race against Trump.

Although he hasn’t made any formal announcements about a White House run, DeSantis last week picked up his first congressional endorsement from Rep. Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, who recently attended a donor talk for DeSantis in Florida.

DeSantis has “proven his ability to win at the polls time and time again. When other Republicans were faltering in key races, Governor DeSantis provided a positive vision for the future with prudent, conservative action,” Roy said in his endorsement. «The result was crystal clear: Republicans enjoyed historic, sweeping performances across the state.»

A former Florida House Republican lawmaker who served with DeSantis said Trump remains incredibly popular in his district, but noted that DeSantis has earned praise from Republican politicians and voters for his aggressive push to stop covid restrictions on the state.

“He has shown leadership in our state and people are responding to that,” the former legislator said. «Where there used to be Trump signs, there are DeSantis signs.»