The Republican Party of Florida voted Friday to abandon a rule adopted earlier this year requiring all 2024 presidential hopefuls to pledge support to the eventual nominee if they want to appear on March 19 primary ballots in the state, multiple outlets reported.
The move is viewed as a win for one Florida man, former President Donald Trump, who has loudly refused to sign any such pledge, and a loss for his chief rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has already signed one.
Loyalty pledges have become an issue as Republican Party infighting is setting up a daunting prospect of unifying Republican voters behind one candidate in 2024.
At the national level, Republican leaders have pushed for the pledge. Candidates were told they had to sign if they wanted to appear in the first Republican primary debate held in Milwaukee last month. (Trump refused to sign, but he also refused to debate, thereby skirting the issue.)
The Florida GOP quietly implemented a loyalty pledge in May, CNN reported, in a move that was seen to boost DeSantis.
Behind the scenes, however, Trump allies have reportedly been lobbying the party’s chapter in Florida — Trump’s home state — to ditch the pledge.
At Friday’s meeting, Trump supporters in the Florida GOP predicted anarchy if the pledge were not dropped. One man said, “The Republican Party of Florida would cease to exist,” according to Politico.
Another said: “People will be pissed if we keep Trump off the ballot.”