Florida state Rep. Randy Fine, a longtime ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the only member of the Florida Legislature who is both Jewish and Republican, is withdrawing his support for the governor’s 2024 presidential bid and endorsing Donald Trump, accusing DeSantis of not doing enough to combat antisemitism.
In an op-ed published Monday by the conservative Washington Times, Fine outlined his past support for the governor, writing that he endorsed DeSantis before he ever won the GOP nomination for governor in 2018 and served as the Jewish outreach chairperson of that campaign. He said he helped shepherd some of the governor’s most controversial policy priorities through the state Legislature.
But when it came to combating antisemitism, Fine wrote, DeSantis has done too little.
“I love his words,” Fine wrote. “His actions have broken my heart.”
Fine, who represents southern Brevard County, wrote that it was Hamas’ surprise assault on Israel just over two weeks ago that forced a reckoning with his endorsement, calling Trump the only candidate “who can bring this to an end.”
“The past two weeks have made me realize our choice as Jews is simple,” Fine 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.”
Fine’s op-ed — published as Florida state lawmakers are set to meet for a four-day special session in early November to consider DeSantis’ proposed Iran sanctions and a measure to ramp up efforts to combat antisemitic violence and hate crimes — offered a scathing assessment of DeSantis.
He blamed the governor for not doing enough to build a Holocaust memorial that Fine had supported and accused him of failing to adequately condemn a group of neo-Nazis who gathered in Tampa last year. Fine said that it wasn’t until “a few weeks ago” that DeSantis began taking a stronger stance against antisemitism.
DeSantis still has the support of the vast majority of Republicans in the Florida Legislature. But the defection of a longtime ally like Fine is likely to raise questions about whether other members are considering jumping on board with Trump, who remains the far-and-away favorite to capture the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination.
Bryan Griffin, the press secretary for DeSantis’ presidential campaign, rebuked Fine’s op-ed as “nothing more than shameful political theater” and pointed to a flurry of actions the governor has taken since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out earlier this month: signing off on state-chartered flights to evacuate U.S. citizens stranded in Israel, proposing new sanctions against Iran and calling on legislators to approve new efforts to combat antisemitic violence.
“When it comes to standing in defense of Israel, he’s always been a leader who acts and delivers,” Griffin said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not respond to the Miami Herald’s request for comment on Fine’s endorsement.
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Even before announcing his endorsement of Trump, Fine had shown some frustration with DeSantis. He sent a letter to DeSantis earlier this month urging him to use his powers as governor to crack down on pro-Palestinian protests on Florida university campuses.
“I did not write these laws to create press conferences,” Fine wrote in the Oct. 13 letter.
DeSantis’ office responded at the time by saying that the governor shared Fine’s frustrations, arguing that university officials need to do more to protect Jewish students and combat antisemitism. The governor’s office also highlighted an Oct. 12 executive order declaring a state of emergency in Florida in response to the attack on Israel.