Florida Republicans will no longer require that 2024 GOP presidential candidates sign a loyalty pledge vowing to back the party’s eventual nominee in order to get on the Sunshine State’s primary ballot.
The oath requirement was scrapped Friday in a vote taken during the state GOP’s quarterly meeting in Orlando, Fla.
“Common sense prevailed at the Republican Party of Florida tonight,” said Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters, who made the motion to rescind the loyalty pledge, according to NBC News.
The vote in favor of rescinding the pledge was “overwhelming,” Gruters added.
The language of the pledge was approved by the party in May, and filed with Florida elections officials in July. It was slated to be a required step for all GOP candidates seeking to appear on the state’s March 19 primary ballots and followed the Republican National Committee announcement earlier this year that GOP presidential debate participants must vow to back the party’s standard-bearer in order to be allowed onstage.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign spokesman blasted Friday’s vote.
“We believe anyone who wanted to run for president as a Republican should be willing to pledge their support for our eventual nominee,” Bryan Griffin told NBC News. “It is surprising that anyone interested in seeing the defeat of Joe Biden in 2024 would disagree.”
“Once Ron DeSantis secures the party’s nomination, we hope everyone in the field will join him in that fight,” he added.
The vote is considered a win for former President Donald Trump.
The 77-year-old Republican front-runner has thus far refused to sign the RNC’s pledge, which disqualified him from the first GOP primary debate last month.
Trump contends, however, that he would have skipped the debate anyway because of his massive lead in the polls.
“I wouldn’t sign the pledge. Why would I sign a pledge? There are people on there that I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have certain people as, you know, somebody that I’d endorse,” Trump told Newsmax host Eric Bolling last month. “I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president.”
Trump’s lead over DeSantis reached 46 points earlier this month, according to a Wall Street Journal poll, with 59% of Republican primary voters saying the former president would be their top choice in 2024 followed by 13% for DeSantis.
Similarly, Trump reached 60% support nationally in a Fox News poll released on Thursday, with DeSantis receiving 13% support.