Many readers are aware that Jim Greer, Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, resigned his post and State Senator John Thrasher was appointed to serve in the interim. Of course, that appointment was created to help secure the position for Thrasher in February, when the actual successor is chosen.
Below is a statement from the Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida on recent events in the Republican Party of Florida:
“Several members of the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) attended the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) annual meeting January 8th and 9th. With factors such as the recently announced resignation of RPOF Chair Jim Greer, the growth of the RLC, the emergence of Tea Party movements and the influence of the “We Surround Them” (912) groups, we had high hopes for a new direction for the RPOF.
New opportunities were opened with the anger and energy of these activist groups, and the RPOF state committee recognized this with a resolution to encourage county executive committees to reach out to “Tea Party people.” This would have given the RPOF a solid boost heading into the 2010 elections. But they failed to understand that those “Tea Party people” want principled leadership and bottom-up representation, not the party-first top-down mentality currently in place.
At the annual meeting, the RPOF leadership demonstrated that they still don’t get it. Chairman Greer received a standing ovation from party leadership when he exclaimed at the conclusion of his speech, “It’s about the party, party, party”. The cries heard at a Tea Party or grassroots function, however, are for “principles, principles, principles.”
Rank-and-file Republicans are clearly angry over the unprecedented growth of the federal government in 2009. They are also disgusted at our Governor Charlie Crist’s display of support for Obama’s stimulus package. Yet, when Crist addressed the RPOF at the meeting, he stated that “Florida needs to get her fair share,” and added that he would “not apologize for supporting the stimulus.” Such a statement would be met with scorn from the majority of voters of the Republican Party and Tea Party attendees, but was met with a standing ovation by party leadership.
The first person to speak on policy was Jeff Kottkamp, candidate for Attorney General. Kottkamp did not talk about reducing the size and scope of government, cutting spending, or removing regulations and encouraging free enterprise. Instead, he focused his remarks on expanding the Defense and Space industries in Florida. Grassroots Republicans are pleading for leadership that understands the core issues of fiscal responsibility and limiting the size and scope of government, but RPOF leadership offers only promises to protect special interests.
Most discouraging of all, however, was the apparent coronation of Senator John Thrasher to replace Jim Greer as Chair of the RPOF. In much the same fashion Jim Greer was chosen, the word is that Thrasher had been chosen before the conference call announcing Greer’s resignation had even ended. Many in leadership have rallied around Thrasher because of his ability to raise large sums of money, something the RPOF is in need of. What the RPOF needs more than money, however, is to discover its principles and to get candidates who truly understand those principles elected to office.
A Sign of Hope
In spite of the leadership’s general disconnect with the grassroots, there was a significant sign of hope. There appears to be some serious resistance to the leadership-led coronation of John Thrasher as the new RPOF Chair. Sharon Day, who currently serves as national committeewoman for Florida, stated that she too is running for RPOF Chair in the election that will take place at the February 20th special meeting in Orlando. “I’m running to give the RPOF members a choice, because there should always be a choice,” Day said when she addressed the state committee Saturday morning.
The RLC applauds those in the RPOF that are supporting the courage of Sharon Day and others that seek to offer a voice to the rank-and-file Republicans. We hope that more in party leadership will stand against the top-down approach taken by many in the RPOF.”