Former President Donald Trump’s allies are privately lobbying to rescind the Florida Republican Party’s loyalty pledge, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, to participate in the state’s primary, NBC News reported Tuesday.
The Florida GOP announced in early July that it will require GOP presidential candidates to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee to appear on the primary ballot on March 19. With Trump allies pushing to revoke the pledge, state Sen. Joe Gruters is expected to propose scrapping it at a Florida GOP meeting Friday, and DeSantis allies are pushing to quell the potential motion, according to NBC News.
“It’s going to happen,” Lee County GOP Chair Michael Thompson, a supporter of the former president, told the Daily Caller News Foundation regarding the efforts to rescind the pledge, which he called “election interference.” “I sit on the Election Integrity committee at the [Republican Party of Florida] & believe the voters of Florida should not be dictated to by the Party on who they can vote for in the upcoming presidential preference primary only because someone didn’t sign a piece of paper.”
“In this case, that someone is the former President who is currently dominating the polls. Imagine the Party keeping a President Trump off the ballot, its only going to drive a nail deeper between MAGA Nation & the GOP. Totally stupid move,” Thompson added. (RELATED: ‘Ensure Maximum Unity’: Florida GOP Will Enforce Loyalty Pledge For Candidates To Make Primary Ballot)
The state’s loyalty pledge mirrors the language of the Republican National Committee’s (RNC’s) that it requires presidential candidates to sign in order to participate in its debates. Trump opted not to attend the first debate on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, and is expected to skip the second in Simi Valley, California, on Sept. 27.
“The Florida GOP is a grassroots-run organization, and the membership from across the state always has the opportunity to bring up, discuss and take action on issues impacting their Republican Party,” Florida GOP Chairman Christian Ziegler told NBC News.
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez and state House Speaker Paul Renner, both DeSantis allies, are trying to block such an effort from the Trump camp, according to NBC News.
“The Republican Party’s purpose is to elect Republicans. I think you can expect those in the party to support the nominee, especially those in party leadership,” Renner told the DCNF in a statement; a spokesperson for the Speaker confirmed he has been making phone calls to other members.
The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average for a 2024 national Republican primary, based on polls conducted between Aug. 24 to Sept. 10, indicates Trump is leading DeSantis by roughly 40 points. In their home state, the governor trails Trump by 36 points among a crowded field of contenders, according to a Victory Insights survey released Aug. 24.
“Right or wrong, it would be viewed as a fuck you to DeSantis,” a prominent Florida Republican said, according to NBC News.
Some are also trying to amend the loyalty pledge’s language to where candidates who do not win the primary don’t have to officially endorse the nominee, but shouldn’t intentionally come out against them, according to NBC News.
“I’ve been talking to some folks, and I think there are conversations today about a compromise,” one Republican leader in the state told NBC News. “At the end of the day, the ultimate outcome is to not be fighting.”
Trump, DeSantis, the Florida GOP, Gruters and Núñez did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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