Florida State Rep. Randy Fine Withdraws Support for Gov. DeSantis, Endorses Trump for 2024 Presidential Election

In a surprising turn of events, Florida state Rep. Randy Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the state legislature, announced on Monday that he was withdrawing his support for Gov. Ron DeSantis and instead endorsing former President Donald Trump for the 2024 presidential election.[0] Fine expressed his disappointment with DeSantis’ management of antisemitic incidents in the state during the Israel-Hamas war.[1]

Fine, who had previously been an ally of DeSantis and had even served as the Jewish outreach chair for his campaign, criticized the governor’s response to the rise in antisemitism in Florida.[2] He pointed out that 18 months ago, there were instances of Nazi-inspired attacks on Jews in the state, including assaults on a Rabbi and a Jewish individual who had spoken out against the protesters.[1] Fine accused DeSantis of doing almost nothing to address these incidents and said that his actions, or lack thereof, had broken his heart.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Times, Fine wrote, “Every piece of legislation you hear [DeSantis] talk about regarding Jewish issues is one I wrote. I love his words. His actions have broken my heart.”[3] He also highlighted Trump’s pro-Israel history, including his involvement in organizing the Abraham Accords peace treaties between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in 2020.[1] Fine stated that the current situation in the world would not be happening if Trump were still president, as other countries would have been afraid of him.[1]

DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, responded to Fine’s op-ed by defending the governor’s record on supporting Israel. He emphasized DeSantis’ efforts to combat antisemitism, including sending planes to rescue Americans in Israel and calling for a special session of the Florida legislature to levy sanctions against Iran and provide further protections to Jewish students and faith communities in the state.[4]

This withdrawal of support from Fine is seen as a blow to DeSantis’ presidential campaign, as Fine was one of nearly 100 GOP state legislators who endorsed DeSantis in May.[5] The move suggests that DeSantis’ hold on Florida Republicans may be starting to weaken.[6]

In addition to Fine’s withdrawal of support, DeSantis faced further criticism when it was revealed that he and the State University System ordered two Florida universities, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida, to deactivate their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine.[7] Chancellor Ray Rodrigues claimed that the national chapter of the organization supported terrorism.[8] This move drew mixed reactions, with some praising DeSantis’ actions against what they see as a terrorist-supporting organization, while others criticized it as an attack on free speech and expression.

DeSantis, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, defended his record on supporting Israel and rescuing people from the country. He questioned, “What other governor has rescued people from Israel?” and emphasized his role in bringing back close to 700 people from the region.[2]

Overall, Fine’s withdrawal of support and criticism of DeSantis, along with the controversy surrounding the deactivation of the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters, adds a new layer of complexity to the upcoming 2024 presidential election. It remains to be seen how these developments will impact DeSantis’ campaign and his standing among Florida Republicans.

0. “DeSantis ally Rep. Randy Fine switches endorsement to Trump for president” Florida Phoenix, 24 Oct. 2023, https://floridaphoenix.com/blog/desantis-ally-rep-randy-fine-switches-endorsement-to-trump-for-president/

1. “Jewish Florida Lawmaker Dumps DeSantis, Backs Trump Over Israel Stance” Yahoo Canada Sports, 24 Oct. 2023, https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/jewish-florida-lawmaker-dumps-desantis-182707646.html

2. “Jewish Republican from Florida rips DeSantis, switches endorsement to Trump” The Hill, 24 Oct. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4273289-jewish-republican-from-florida-rips-desantis-switches-endorsement-to-trump

3. “Florida Neo-Nazis Cost Ron DeSantis His Top Ally” Newsweek, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/florida-neo-nazis-cost-ron-desantis-top-ally-1837477

4. “Top Ally Bashes DeSantis’s Antisemitism Response and Switches Endorsement to Trump” The Messenger, 24 Oct. 2023, https://themessenger.com/politics/top-ally-bashes-desantiss-antisemitism-response-and-switches-endorsement-to-trump

5. “Florida Jewish Republican tears into DeSantis, endorses Trump” POLITICO, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/10/24/florida-jewish-republican-trump-desantis-00123221

6. “DeSantis says he would cancel student visas, deport foreign nationals celebrating Hamas if elected president” Fox News, 22 Oct. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/desantis-says-he-would-cancel-student-visas-deport-foreign-nationals-celebrating-hamas-elected-president

7. “Israel war: DeSantis directs Florida colleges to shut down pro-Palestinian student group” Washington Examiner, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/education/israel-war-desantis-shut-student-group-florida-colleges

8. “DeSantis defends record fighting antisemitism after Jewish GOP state lawmaker flips endorsement to Trump” KTVZ, 24 Oct. 2023, https://ktvz.com/politics/cnn-us-politics/2023/10/24/desantis-defends-record-fighting-antisemitism-after-jewish-gop-state-lawmaker-flips-endorsement-to-trump/

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