NEW YORK, May 24 (Reuters) - Officials from 19 Republican U.S. states urged major money managers on Thursday not to vote against ExxonMobil's directors at a meeting next week where some shareholders plan to voice their opposition to a lawsuit launched by the oil company against climate activists.

The group, including Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Louisiana State Treasurer John Fleming, said in a letter to companies including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan that Exxon's board "deserve our thanks and support... for seeking to rein in activist shareholders."

Exxon's pursuit of the case against Arjuna Capital and Follow This over a proposal the company push for stricter climate targets, even after the investor groups withdrew it, has split opinion among shareholders and state officials.

A group of Democratic officials asked some of the same asset managers to vote against the board earlier this week, saying the suit would undermine shareholder rights. Norway's $1.6 trillion sovereign wealth fund said on Friday it would vote against the reappointment of Exxon director Joseph Hooley.

Not all signatories to Thursday's letter have direct control over voting at companies where state pensions are invested, but their taking a position marks a change from a previous shareholder battle at Exxon, in which Democratic state pension funds sided with a climate-focused hedge fund.

They did not explicitly call for a vote in favor of the board at the May 29 meeting.

"These activists have been flooding corporate proxy statements with politically motivated proposals thinly veiled as business risk mitigation measures," the letter said.

BlackRock did not respond to a request for comment. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment. Exxon, Arjuna Capital and Follow This did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Republican officials took particular issue with Arjuna and Follow This asking Exxon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its suppliers and end-users, known as Scope 3.

"The only way that Exxon can eliminate Scope 3 emissions is to shut down its operations, cap its wells, shutter its windows, and fire its employees," the letter said. (Reporting by Isla Binnie Editing by Alistair Bell)