TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is losing support for his presidential bid in his backyard.
State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) has become the first GOP lawmaker to break with DeSantis. That’s after nearly the entire Republican legislative caucus backed the governor for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
In a 637-word opinion article, posted this week in the Washington Times, Fine said he was switching allegiance to former President Donald Trump after DeSantis' inaction on antisemitism.
“I love his words,” Fine wrote. “His actions have broken my heart.”
Fine shared his grievances with us on Tuesday. Among them, that DeSantis "said almost nothing"following recent Nazi displays in the state. The governor "shrugged off" a call to use new state laws preventing antisemitism on school campuses, which Fine championed. Also, Fine said, DeSantis hadn't advanced a Florida Holocaust memorial, waiting five years and counting to break ground.
"Look — Gov. DeSantis says all the right things but a lot of times the action isn't behind it, and President Trump sometimes says the wrong things, but the actions are always there, and it's a choice between words and action…" Fine said. "I'm not gonna lie. Ias bothered me for a year and a half. But I tried to be a good soldier. I tried to make the best of it."
Later in the day, DeSantis rejected the criticism while on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. That’s as his campaign comms team called Fine’s defection "political theater."
Fine is seeking a Florida Senate seat following what DeSantis said was a failed attempt to secure the presidency of Florida Atlantic University.
“He was up for a presidency of FAU. He didn't get it. Now he's running for (state) Senate,” DeSantis said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "He's trying to ingratiate himself. Totally ridiculous.”
DeSantis also dismissed his allegations about antisemitism.
“Totally ridiculous,” DeSantis said. “What other governor has rescued people from Israel? I marshaled resources — we’ve brought back close to 700 people. We’re bringing back children. We were talking in there, we’re bringing back people’s pets we are saving.”
DeSantis' supporters doubted Fine’s flip would matter much in early states. Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) told us Fine was "wrong on this."
“In deference to my good friend Randy Fine,” Ingoglia said, “his comments really aren't gonna make a dent in what people think or say in Iowa nor in New Hampshire.”
The Trump campaign, however, blasted out Fine’s op-ed in an email to supporters Tuesday in hopes of gaining some more.
Trump and DeSantis are slated to be in Miami-Dade County in November. The governor will be participating in the third GOP primary debate set for Miami, on Nov. 8. Trump will host a rally a short distance away in Hialeah that same evening.