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Bush rolls out Florida endorsements

Jeb Bush rolled out endorsements from more than a dozen Florida House members and top state-level officials on Friday, making a statement about his home-state strength.

The Bush team announced that 11 of Florida's 17 Republican House members will back Bush and actively help him campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

Bush will have the support of Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Ander Crenshaw, Carlos Curbelo, Mario D az-Balart, David Jolly, Jeff Miller, John Mica, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dennis Ross and Daniel Webster.

"Jeb Bush's executive leadership experience both as Governor of Florida and in the private sector make him exceptionally qualified to renew America's economic promise and restore our leadership role in the world," said Curbelo. "From a very young age, Jeb Bush has stood strong for the Republican Party and its principles, and I am proud to stand with him today."

The nods from the Florida Republican lawmakers are particularly noteworthy, since Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) is also in the GOP race. Rubio has emerged as a rival to Bush and a real threat to his former mentor.

In addition, Bush landed endorsements from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Adam Putnam, the state's commissioner of agriculture.

Bush moved early to secure the backing of many lawmakers in his home state, calling them personally as early as February to ask for their support.

When The Hill interviewed Florida House members about who they would support earlier this year, many who were already in Bush's camp said they've known him far longer than Rubio and have deeper ties to him and his family.

According to a Saint Leo University survey released this week, Bush still leads Rubio in a head-to-head matchup in Florida, taking 30 percent support. However, Rubio is close behind, taking 24 percent support, up from 16 percent in March.

The endorsements Bush announced Friday should give him a substantial advantage in his home state. So far, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) is the only Florida lawmaker to endorse Rubio.

Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) is expected to back Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for president, leaving only four other Florida Republican House members who haven't announced endorsements.

Bush is expected to officially launch his bid for the Republican nomination from Florida on Monday.

The heavy load of endorsements is a welcome turn of events for the former Florida governor, who has been battling the notion that his campaign is failing to meet expectations.

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