The Florida Republican Party dropped its requirement for candidates to sign a loyalty pledge to qualify for the party’s 2024 primary ballot.
Like the Republican National Party’s loyalty pledge to qualify for debates, the Florida GOP’s pledge would have required candidates to unwaveringly support the eventual GOP nominee.
Former President Donald Trump, citing his enormous lead in both national and state polls, has refused to abide by any such pledges.
He’s not the only one. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Texas Representative Will Hurd have also voiced concern with loyalty pledges. The two are vocally anti-Trump and do not want to back him even if he has the support of primary voters.
The Associated Press reported that the state party had decided to drop the pledge just before the weekend began.
“By putting this in place, whether it was intentional or not, the party looks like it was favoring a certain candidate,” state Senator Joe Gruters said. “This has turned into a proxy battle — the Trump world versus the DeSantis world.”
The state pledge may have also run afoul of national Republican party rules over changing candidate qualifications too close to election day.
“When people say, ‘Well, Trump doesn’t want to sign the loyalty oath,’ it’s not about that. It’s about the party putting up artificial roadblocks that didn’t exist four months ago,” Gruters said.
Initially, the Florida GOP said the pledge was meant to bring the party together.
“The days of party grifters such as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger using Republican Party resources to secure a title and then weaponize that title against our own team must end,” Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler said in July.
“Contested primaries are part of the process, but we must always remember that the Democrats are the true threat to the America we love, and we must be unified to defeat every single one of them,” he added.
Neither Trump nor Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have commented on the change.