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By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Republican party insiders mount a desperate effort to

derail the presidential campaign of billionaire Donald Trump, many of the party'
s 31 state governors are staying out of the fray.
When New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez steps onto a Kansas stage on Friday to
endorse Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, she will be only the 10th
governor to back one of the four candidates remaining in a nominating contest t
hat could define the party for years to come.
That is a sharp contrast to previous elections, when governors lined up solidly
behind the party's eventual nominee, helping to winnow the field of candidates e
arly on.
Perplexed by the chaotic race, many governors are keeping a low profile to avoid
a possible backlash from voters who are increasingly contemptuous of party lead
ers, Republican officials say.
"It's a lose-lose political situation," said Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshi
re Republican Party chairman.
In past elections, a governor's endorsement could produce a burst of positive ne
ws coverage and the support of well-connected local leaders for a presidential c