TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On Friday night, the Republican Party of Florida scrapped plans to require presidential candidates to sign a loyalty pledge. GOP party members sided with former President Donald Trump over Governor Ron DeSantis in a feud that has tested the two rivals’ support in their home state.
The state party agreed in May that they would require candidates to sign a pledge to endorse the eventual GOP nominee as a requirement to appear on Florida’s primary ballot in March 2024. Trump's campaign saw the move as a way to boost DeSantis.
But former party chair and Florida State Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), along with other Trump allies in the party, pushed to remove the clause. Gruters argued at the organization’s quarterly meeting in Orlando that the state GOP violated national party rules by changing eligibility requirements within two years of an election.
“Common sense prevailed at the Republican Party of Florida tonight,” Gruters said.
But the event was supposed to be a celebration of the party’s recent success and an opportunity to lay the groundwork to keep Florida red in 2024. Instead, the vote exposed a deep division over the state’s two presidential candidates.
“Once Ron DeSantis secures the party’s nomination, we hope everyone in the field will join him in that fight,” DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said.
“We believe anyone who wants to run for president as a Republican should be willing to pledge their support for our eventual nominee,” Griffin added. “It is surprising that anyone interested in seeing the defeat of Joe Biden in 2024 would disagree.”