Florida’s Republican Party approved the change and included new provisions at its executive board meeting held in mid-May an updated version of its bylaws It was filed with state elections officials but not widely distributed.
The new oath, which includes a promise to “endorse” the GOP candidate and requires the candidate to pledge not to run as an independent or third-party candidate, mirrors the language adopted by the Republican National Committee for its first debate. Does
“We were trying to stay true to the need of the debate,” said Evan Power, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. He said campaigns had been informed of the changes. “I don’t think it would be a surprise.”
The change by the Florida Republican comes amid ongoing controversy by some Republican presidential candidates over whether they will support the nominee, especially if it is Trump, who is embroiled in legal trouble. Chris Christie called the loyalty pledge a “useless idea” and said it was not needed until after Trump.
DeSantis ignored a question last month about whether he would “endorse” Trump if he were the candidate, although at a subsequent campaign event he said that candidates should “respect the outcome of the process.” Trump himself said in a radio interview earlier this year that endorsing the nominee would depend on who he is.
Neither the DeSantis nor Trump campaigns immediately responded to a request for comment on Wednesday.
In addition to the governor and former president, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is also running for the GOP presidential nomination.
Candidates who want to vote in the primary have until Nov. 22 to submit a signed, notarized pledge. The party will have to submit the final list of candidates to the state election authorities by November 30.
Florida Republicans also made other changes to requirements to be on the primary ballot, including additional requirements designed to entice GOP candidates to attend the party’s “Florida Freedom Summit” planned for early November.
Candidates who agree to attend the summit will only have to pay a qualifying fee of $25,000 to make it to the March 19 primary, while those skipping the party program will have to pay $100,000. A candidate can avoid paying the fee if he collects signatures from Florida Republicans to make up the ballot – but this has been increased from a total of 3,375 signatures in 2015 to a total of 56,000 now.
“The goal is to bring people to the summit,” Christian Ziegler, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, said in a telephone interview. “We want them to come to our big event for bicycles.”
Ziegler said the previous signature requirement was much lower and it was easier for anyone with an email list to set it up. He said party officials looked at what was needed to make up the ballot for governor — which is more than 144,000 — and went with less than that amount.
Power said the executive board passed the changes easily, with the only real debate being over the correct number of petition signatures to be required.
“Nobody was bothered about it at the time,” Power said.