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Ron DeSantis to address a powerful police union in Chicago

The Florida governor has been in high demand for speaking events around the country as he weighs a presidential run.
Gov. Ron DeSantis at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach on Wednesday. Wilfredo Lee / AP

CHICAGO — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to make a trip up to Illinois on Monday to speak before local law enforcement, according to the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.

"Chicago Lodge 7 Members: Governor Ron DeSantis would appreciate your support at an event on Monday, February 20 to Back the Blue!" says a copy of the invitation shared with NBC News.

The RSVP to the event is titled "Law and Order for Illinois," and it indicates it will take place at an undisclosed location in Elmhurst, a suburb outside Chicago. The venue will be shared with registrants 48 hours in advance.

It also says the event is open to "law enforcement members only, spouses are not included."

Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately comment on the plans late Thursday.

DeSantis will visit in the midst of intense local political fights in Chicago. The mayor's race has dominated headlines ahead of the Feb. 28 election. Chicago FOP President John Catanzara has clashed with Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and the union itself backed one of Lightfoot's competitors, Democrat Paul Vallas.

But Catanzara — who has in the past backed former President Donald Trump — is facing headwinds in his own re-election effort in the coming weeks. Helping host DeSantis, one of the most popular national Republicans in the country, could be a boost to him.

Going in front of Chicago police — who are beleaguered by persistent crime in the city and political infighting with City Hall —could be a boon for DeSantis should he launch a presidential bid. The national FOP's backing is a sought-after endorsement by presidential contenders.

The visit is the latest sign of DeSantis’ efforts to increase his presence beyond Florida. He is scheduled to headline GOP events next month in Alabama, California and Texas. The Alabama event, a state party dinner, was moved to a larger venue to accommodate high ticket demand, officials said this week.

“It’s pretty clear that Ron DeSantis is America’s governor,” Alabama GOP Chairman John Wahl told NBC News. “We’d like to get to know him. And this is a great opportunity for the state of Alabama to get to know Ron DeSantis and for Ron DeSantis to get to know the state of Alabama.”

Natasha Korecki reported from Chicago and Henry Gomez from Ohio.