Miami Herald (Sunday)

Florida GOP formally endorses Trump’s Republican presidenti­al candidacy

- BY MAX GREENWOOD mgreenwood@miamiheral­ Max Greenwood: @KMaxGreenw­ood

Florida Republican­s voted on Saturday to endorse Donald Trump for the GOP’s presidenti­al nod — an unusual step for the party, given that the former president still faces a primary challenge, but one that reflects the widely held belief that Trump has already run away with the nomination.

The endorsemen­t came amid a flurry of votes by members of Florida’s Republican Party during their annual meeting in Wesley Chapel. Members also moved to elect state Sen. Joe Gruters, a former Florida GOP chairman, as the party’s new national committeem­an and formally oppose a proposed ballot amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state constituti­on.

The vote to back Trump for the Republican presidenti­al nod throws the party’s symbolic weight behind the former president’s bid to return to the White House. It also underscore­s the extent to which the GOP’s rank-and-file members remain loyal to Trump even after his unsuccessf­ul campaign for reelection in 2020.

State Rep. Dean Black, the chairman of the Duval County Republican Party, made the motion to endorse Trump, saying that it was time for the party to unite.

“The Primary is over!” Black wrote on X. “Now is the time to unite and deliver victory in Florida for @realDonald­Trump!”

In the lead-up to the vote, there was little doubt that it would pass. Evan Power, the newly elected chairman of the Florida GOP, previously threw his support behind the measure, saying that Trump’s victories in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary made it clear that Republican voters stood firmly behind the former president.

Power also noted that three of Florida’s most influentia­l Republican­s — Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sens. Rick Scott and

Marco Rubio — had already endorsed Trump, arguing that the former president is the candidate best positioned to take on President Joe Biden in November.

DeSantis was one of several Republican­s who unsuccessf­ully challenged Trump for the GOP nomination. He ended his campaign last month after finishing in a distant second place behind Trump in the Iowa caucuses.

“It is time for Republican­s to come together and put 100% of our focus on defeating Joe Biden and his failed administra­tion in November,” Power said in a statement.

While Trump still faces a primary challenge from former United Nations

Ambassador Nikki Haley, he’s won every nominating contest so far and is far ahead of Haley in the race for delegates, who will choose the nominee at the GOP National Convention in Milwaukee this summer.

Although Trump has incumbent-like status within the GOP, it is unusual for a party committee to endorse a nominee for the presidency in a contested primary before its state holds its nominating contest.

The Florida Republican primary is scheduled for March 19. Haley, the last remaining GOP challenger to Trump, has signaled that she will compete in the primaries through at least Super Tuesday on March 5, when more than a dozen states will hold GOP nominating contests.

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