After switching allegiance to the previous president, Donald Trump, a Florida Republican senator is now publicly challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis’ commitment to the Jewish population. Another state legislator, who was rejected by DeSantis earlier this year, is working to get more of his colleagues to join Trump’s team. Meanwhile, a group of former DeSantis political staffers who quit on bad terms are now established in Trump’s administration and eager to undermine their former boss.
Greetings to the Vengeance Tour 2024! Trump has established an advantage in the tug-of-war for home-state dominance, in part by leveraging schisms between DeSantis and Florida Republicans. The approach has worked much better than the former president’s aides anticipated, with DeSantis leaving a trail of animosity across the state on his way to political fame.
As the 2024 campaign falls on Florida in the days to come, the state’s Republicans’ constantly developing relationship with these two prominent individuals will be in full view.
Trump, DeSantis, and the remainder of the Republican primary field will speak to Florida Republicans at a state party event near Orlando on Saturday, where support for either of them will be closely monitored. DeSantis has a noon slot, sandwiched among Florida Senator Rick Scott, the previous governor of Tallahassee with whom he disagrees, and state Rep. Randy Fine, the state’s only Jewish Republican lawmaker, who recently claimed DeSantis hasn’t done enough to combat Nazis and anti-Semites in Florida. Scott stated his support for Trump on Thursday, while Okay shifted to the previous president’s side just recently.
Before Trump delivers his keynote address, Republicans in the audience will be warmed by two fervent Trump supporters from Florida, Reps. Byron Donalds and Matt Gaetz.
Trump Skip Debate
The Republican Party will next hold its third presidential discussion in Miami on Wednesday. Trump, who has skipped the debate yet again, has booked counterprogramming in Hialeah. The following day, Trump will entertain Florida Republicans at Mar-a-Lago as part of his ongoing courting of party officials and funders, while DeSantis is going to state events.
At the same time, lawmakers will go back to Tallahassee the following week at DeSantis’ request to enact more penalties against Iran in response to Hamas’ attack on Israel last month, demonstrating his continued authority over the GOP-controlled state Senate. They will also work to fix the state’s insurance for the property crisis, which has continued to produce poor press for DeSantis at home.
The governor’s once-unquestioned authority in the Sunshine State has taken a beating in recent months. Some Republicans in Florida are breaking with DeSantis less than a year after he produced the most overwhelming victories in a Florida gubernatorial campaign in recent history. With the Iowa caucuses close at hand, Trump’s advantage in early nominating states and national polls seems to be solid, but DeSantis has slid to a distant second place behind a rising Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor.
His attempts to restore himself as the state’s dominant political power have frequently met with the opposition he has amassed over the last decade.
While DeSantis derided Fine’s desire for “15 minutes of fame,” the governor’s allies are ready for more state legislators to switch sides. One DeSantis adviser predicted that up to six Republicans in the Legislature, primarily newcomers elected last year, might switch sides.
State Sen. Joe Gruters, a former state party chair who DeSantis repeatedly iced out, is assisting in luring more Republicans to Trump and expects to unveil a “pretty strong group” in the coming weeks. He did agree, however, that most legislators will continue to support DeSantis, which he attributed to the governor’s line-item veto power—a reality he saw firsthand when DeSantis deleted his projects from the state budget shortly after Gruters praised Trump.