Sarah May
September 17, 2023

Florida GOP abandons loyalty oath requirement for primary ballot eligibility

In a notable win for former President Donald Trump and his 2024 campaign, the Florida Republican Party has announced the abandonment of a prior requirement that candidates sign a loyalty pledge in order to appear on the 2024 primary ballot, as The Hill reports.

Under the terms of the prior rules, all GOP primary candidates would have had to promise to throw their support to the party's eventual nominee, and failure to do so would result in exclusion from the ballot in the Sunshine State.

Trump's resistance

Pledges of the sort previously required for inclusion on the Florida primary ballot have historically not gone down well with Trump.

Earlier this year, the former president famously declined to commit to such a premise just so that he could participate in official primary debates with the rest of the Republican field.

In declaring his refusal to accept the oath, Trump referenced the commanding lead he held – and still holds – in polls at both the state and national levels.

Notably, it is not just Trump who has taken issue with the concept of party loyalty pledges, with fellow presidential hopefuls Chris Christie and former Rep. Will Hurd – both vocal critics of the former president – indicating their dissatisfaction with the idea.

As The Hill noted earlier this year, Christie referred to the GOP's loyalty pledge as a “useless idea,” adding that “only [in] the era of Donald Trump” is such a notion even being entertained” and sarcastically suggesting that he would take the pledge “just as seriously as Donald Trump did eight years ago.”

Reactions pour in

In the wake of the party's Friday vote rescinding the pledge requirement, state Sen. Joe Gruters opined, “By putting this in place, whether it was intentional or not, the party looks like it was favoring a certain candidate. This has turned into a proxy battle – the Trump world versus the [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis world.”

“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 added about the recently imposed, but now-scuttled rule.

The DeSantis camp, however, expressed its displeasure with the outcome of Friday's vote, saying, as the New York Post noted, “We believe anyone who wanted to run for president as a Republican should be willing to pledge their support for our eventual nominee."

"It is surprising that anyone interested in seeing the defeat of Joe Biden in 2024 would disagree," the DeSantis campaign added.

Trump, for his part, has never wavered from what he has said on the matter all along, namely, “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. I can name three or four people that I wouldn't support for president.”

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