The Republican Party of Florida sided with former President Donald Trump and his allies on Friday, rescinding the state’s loyalty oath primary requirement that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) supported.
Earlier in the year, the Florida GOP voted to require presidential candidates sign a pledge to support the party’s eventual nominee to make it on the state’s March 19 primary ballot.
Trump has maintained he would not sign any loyalty pledge, telling Newsmax, “Why would I sign it? I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem.”
Lee County GOP Chair Michael Thompson said “of course” the loyalty oath was designed to go after Trump, dubbing it the “Donald J. Trump rule.”
Florida’s move came as the Republican National Committee implemented a similar loyalty pledge requirement for candidates to appear on the debate stage.
However, Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters brought a motion to rescind the loyalty pledge at the Florida GOP’s quarterly meeting in Orlando on Friday. The vote to rescind the pledge passed on an “overwhelming voice vote,” according to Greuters.
“A lot of Republicans in this state are saying the primary is basically over. Trump is ahead by 40, 50 points in some polls and he’s battling multiple indictments. So why would our state party want to fight his campaign?” Greuters said Friday. “If we didn’t make this change, the Republican Party as we know it today wouldn’t exist in two months. There would be a complete revolt from the president’s base.”
The party’s decision to rescind the loyalty pledge deals a serious blow to DeSantis and his allies in his home state.
As NBC News reported Tuesday:
If Trump allies are successful in getting the state Republican Party to vote against DeSantis’ political wishes, some of his supporters are concerned it will send a signal that even Florida Republicans who have been steadfastly loyal to their governor are abandoning his presidential campaign, which continues to trail Trump’s by significant margins in the polls.
“Right or wrong, it would be viewed as a f*** you to DeSantis,” a prominent Florida Republican told NBC News.
Most of Florida’s congressional delegation has endorsed Trump, and a July Florida Atlantic University poll found Trump ahead of DeSantis by 20 points.