Florida State Rep. Randy Fine Withdraws Support for Gov. DeSantis, Endorses Trump in 2024 Presidential Election: Antisemitism and Israel at the Center of Controversy

In a surprising turn of events, Florida state Rep. Randy Fine has withdrawn his support for Governor Ron DeSantis and instead pledged his allegiance to former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election. Fine, who is Jewish, cited DeSantis’ handling of antisemitic incidents in the state during the Israel-Hamas war as the reason for his change in support. In an op-ed published in The Washington Times, Fine expressed his disappointment in DeSantis’ lack of action, stating, “Eighteen months ago, my Nazi ‘friends’ showed up in Florida. They assaulted a Rabbi. They beat up a Jew who yelled back at one of their protests.”[0] Fine contrasted this with Trump’s pro-Israel history, highlighting his role in organizing the Abraham Accords peace treaties between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in 2020.[0] Fine argued that the current state of the world would be different if Trump were still president, claiming that others were “afraid of him.”[0]

DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, responded to Fine’s op-ed by defending the governor’s record on supporting Israel.[0] Griffin emphasized DeSantis’ efforts to send planes to rescue and bring Americans home from Israel, stating that “there’s never been a more pro-Israel Governor.”[1] He also mentioned DeSantis’ initiatives to combat antisemitism in Florida and secure funding for security at Jewish schools and synagogues.

Fine’s decision to withdraw his support for DeSantis has caused a stir within the Florida Republican Party. As the only Jewish Republican in the state legislature, Fine’s endorsement holds significance, and his criticism of DeSantis has drawn attention. Fine argued that while DeSantis may say the right things, it is Trump who has a track record of taking action.[2] He wrote, “We can vote for the Governor who says all the right things or we can vote for the President who actually does them. When it comes to action, Donald Trump has never let us down.”[3]

DeSantis’ campaign spokesman, Bryan Griffin, accused Fine of engaging in “shameful political theater” and emphasized the governor’s support for Israel. Griffin highlighted DeSantis’ efforts to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, combat antisemitism, and provide funding for security at Jewish schools. He also criticized Fine’s timing, calling it “shameful political theater at a time when Ron DeSantis is leading the charge to support Israel.”

The back-and-forth between Fine and DeSantis has shed light on the issue of antisemitism in Florida and the importance of supporting Israel. Fine’s criticism of DeSantis’ response to antisemitic incidents resonates with many who believe that more needs to be done to address and prevent such acts of hatred. On the other hand, DeSantis’ supporters argue that he has been a strong advocate for Israel and has taken significant steps to combat antisemitism in the state.

The endorsement switch by Fine also raises questions about the future of the Republican Party in Florida.[4] As a prominent Jewish Republican, Fine’s withdrawal of support for DeSantis and endorsement of Trump could influence other Republicans in the state. It highlights the divisions within the party and the varying opinions on who is the best candidate to represent Republican values and support Israel.[1]

Overall, Fine’s decision to withdraw his support for DeSantis in favor of Trump has ignited a debate within the Florida Republican Party. The issues of antisemitism, support for Israel, and the future of the party are at the forefront of this discussion. As the 2024 presidential election draws closer, it will be interesting to see how these dynamics play out and what impact they will have on the party’s direction.

0. “Jewish Florida Lawmaker Dumps DeSantis, Backs Trump Over Israel Stance” Yahoo New Zealand News, 24 Oct. 2023, https://nz.news.yahoo.com/jewish-florida-lawmaker-dumps-desantis-182707646.html

1. “‘Ron DeSantis Stands with Israel’ Website Launches” West Orlando News, 28 Oct. 2023, https://westorlandonews.com/ron-desantis-stands-with-israel-website-launches/

2. “Former DeSantis Jewish outreach chair: ‘I love his words. His actions have broken my heart’ – JNS.org” JNS.org, 26 Oct. 2023, https://www.jns.org/former-desantis-jewish-outreach-chair-i-love-his-words-his-actions-have-broken-my-heart/

3. “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

4. “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

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