In a closely watched turf war between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump emerged victorious after a loyalty pledge requirement for presidential candidates was scrapped by the Republican Party of Florida's executive board. The provision, which mandated that candidates sign a pledge of loyalty to the eventual GOP nominee in order to appear on the state's presidential primary ballot, was repealed under pressure from Trump supporters during a contentious meeting held at an Orlando hotel.
The loyalty pledge had been adopted with little fanfare in May, and supporters of DeSantis, including state House Speaker Paul Renner, urged the board members to keep it in place. However, State Sen. Joe Gruters, a top Trump supporter in Florida, argued that the rules should not have been changed less than a year before the primary and motioned to drop the pledge. Ed Shoemaker, a member of the Polk County GOP, warned during the meeting that "people will be pissed if we keep Trump off the ballot."
The vote to repeal the loyalty pledge not only showcased Trump's strength and influence in his adopted home state, but also indicated that DeSantis' grip on the Florida state party may be slipping. Notably, neither Trump nor DeSantis attended the meeting, as they were both giving speeches in Washington D.C. at the time. DeSantis campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin emphasized the importance of pledging support for the eventual nominee, stating that "anyone who wants to run for president as a Republican should be willing to pledge their support."
Trump's campaign did not immediately release a comment on the vote, but it is worth noting that the pledge nixed in Florida is similar to the one mandated by the Republican National Committee (RNC) for presidential candidates to participate in the nomination debate. Trump had previously refused to sign the RNC pledge, leading to his exclusion from the first debate, and he is likely to skip the second one as well.
Despite these developments, Trump remains the commanding front-runner in the 2024 Republican primary race, outperforming DeSantis and other contenders by a significant margin. Recent polls show Trump with a 46-point lead over DeSantis in Florida and 60% support among Republican primary voters nationwide. These numbers highlight Trump's continued popularity and his strong position as the party's potential standard-bearer in the upcoming election.
The repeal of the loyalty pledge in Florida marks a significant victory for Trump, solidifying his influence within the state and potentially weakening DeSantis' standing. As the 2024 campaign trail heats up, all eyes will be on these two Republican heavyweights as they vie for support and navigate the ever-changing landscape of the GOP.
themes: Donald Trump War Florida Washington