A score for former President Donald Trump against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as the two fighters for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination tangled in a test of their strength on their home turf and their influence among supporters of the state they both call home.
The board of directors of the Republican Party of Florida, under pressure from Trump supporters, voted Friday evening to repeal a provision of its bylaws that required any candidate wishing to run in the March 19 presidential primary vote to sign a commitment of loyalty to the eventual GOP nominee. .
The meeting, held at a hotel in Orlando, Florida, was described by sources with knowledge of the gathering as controversial.
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The pledge passed without much fanfare in May, and DeSantis supporters, including House Speaker Paul Renner, urged board members to keep the pledge.
State Sen. Joe Gruters, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party and one of Trump’s top supporters in the Sunshine State, introduced the motion to abandon that pledge, arguing that the rules should not have changed in first place less than a year before the primary.
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According to reports, Polk County GOP member Ed Shoemaker warned at the meeting that “people would be pissed if we kept Trump off the ballot.”
The vote was not only a show of strength for Trump in his adopted state, but it’s also a sign that DeSantis’ once iron grip on the Florida state party may be weakening. slide.
Neither Trump nor DeSantis attended the meeting, as they were both giving speeches in Washington, D.C. at the Family Research Council’s annual Pray, Vote, Stand conference around the same time the vote was held. place.
DeSantis campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement that “anyone interested in running for president as a Republican should be prepared to pledge their support to our eventual nominee.”
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Trump’s campaign did not immediately release a comment regarding the vote.
The bill in Florida that was struck down is similar to one that the Republican National Committee requires Republican presidential candidates to sign in order for the presidential nomination debate to be a state. Trump refused to sign the RNC pledge, skipped the first debate, and likely won’t participate in the second either.
Trump, making his third straight campaign for the White House, remains the favorite ahead of DeSantis and the rest of the broad field of contenders seeking to be the party’s standard-bearer in 2024.
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