Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

RPOF Steps In It

Well, the Republican Party of Florida certainly stepped in a pile of dookie today.  It seems the RPOF released an attack on “Banker” Alex Sink alleging that she participated in predatory lending practices that led to the crisis with subprime mortgages.  The chair of the RPOF, Jim Greer, called on Sink to “release all information relating to her involvement with Barnett Bank (among others) subprime predatory lending practices.”  The only problem is, Sink never worked at Barnett Bank…..but Jeff Atwater, Senate President and the Republican candidate running to replace Alex Sink as CFO, did.  Read more about it here.  

You just can’t make up stories as good as this one.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , ,

GOP Chairman Backs Down

Looking to avoid an all-out rebellion as local parties across the state from Duval to Palm Beach have passed resolutions stating that they will not interfere in Republican primaries, State Party Chair Jim Greer has announced that he is backing off efforts to endorse Charlie Crist in his primary battle with former House Speaker Marco Rubio.  Greer, a long-time ally of Governor Crist complained that he had thought his behind the scenes maneuvering was “confidential” and complained that information had been leaked to the press for “reasons unknown to him.”

Greer also went on to defend his appearance at a rally for Bill McCollum while Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson was still considering a race for Governor.  

The full text of his statement can be viewed here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , ,

To Have And To Hold: The Value of Primaries

The retirement of US Senator Mel Martinez, and the subsequent drama that has unfolded around the Republican candidates vying to replace him—former House Speaker Marco Rubio and Governor Charlie Crist—has thrust the age-old debate about the benefits of the primary system into the limelight.  To a lesser extent, the battle is also raging in the Governor’s race—where GOP leaders are trying to avoid a Bill McCollum vs. Charles Bronson fight—and in the race for Attorney General—where Democrats are trying to avoid a three way primary battle pitting Dave Aronberg against Dan Gelber and Rod Smith.

While not perfect, the primary system does exist for a reason.  Voters within a party have the right to have their voice heard when it comes to choosing the candidate that will represent their party in the general election.  (Of course, my personal preference would be a system that allows voters to choose from any candidate in the race, regardless of party where the top two vote getters advance to the general election.  The removes the current possibility to discriminate against voters who do not choose to belong to one of the main parties.)  Yet, although we are several hundred years into this unique American experience of democracy, leaders in both parties are attempting to deny voters the right to choose which candidate will represent their party.

The most visible battle has been the battle within the Republican Party over the Charlie Crist vs. Marco Rubio Senate race.  Jim Greer, the GOP Party Chairman and a long-time ally of Charlie Crist, made his preference for Crist rather clear when he attempted to use his power as Chairman to endorse Crist’s campaign.  While his efforts were thwarted by another member of the Executive Committee, he has continued to take shots at Marco Rubio.  Likewise, the Republican Party made it abundantly clear to Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson that his presence in a Republican Gubernatorial primary was not desired, something that was amazingly insulting to a man who has served the party quite faithfully for years.  Republicans are not alone, of course.  The leadership of the Democratic Party has been working just as diligently to avoid a 3-way primary for Attorney General, with the anticipated campaigns of Dave Aronberg, Rod Smith and Dan Gelber.

Florida’s voters should be insulted by the arrogance of party leadership that seems to presume that they have the authority to make decisions on behalf of voters.  If more than one candidate is interested in a race, party leadership should allow them the opportunity to make their case to the voters.  The voters are capable of deciding which one will best represent their party in a general election.

While smoking may be banned in public spaces, the era of the “smoke-filled back room” appears to have returned to Florida politics.  Despite the storied failures of “back room” candidates over the years (does the name Warren G. Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal ring a bell for anyone?) Florida’s political elite have decided that they know what is best for the state.

The current arrogance of the leadership in our political parties makes you wonder how many potential “stars” they are bypassing as they push for what they see as the “most certain” path.  It may be hard to realize this when one is secluded in Tallahassee, but the candidates that voters often take to are not always the first choice of the party elite.  1978 is an excellent example of that.  One wonders if there would have ever been a Senator Bob Graham if the Democratic Party leadership had thrown their weight around in that seven-person Democratic primary

Let the voters decide, Mr. Greer and Ms. Thurman.  We are amazingly competent.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , , , , ,

Crist Announcement Coming Tuesday

From the AP:

The head of the state Republican Party says Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will announce his 2010 political plans Tuesday and hinted that the U.S. Senate is his target.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he believes Crist has “concluded that the problems and issues that Floridians are facing high unemployment and the economy can’t be solved in Tallahassee, they need to be solved in Washington, and I believe that’s what he’s going to do.”

The Senate seat he may be seeking is held by Republican Mel Martinez, who is leaving office after one term. Crist, elected in 2006, sought the same Senate seat in 1998, losing to Democratic incumbent Bob Graham.

Update: Crist’s former chief-of-staff, George LeMieux, confirmed Tuesday is the day. He said it will be a “low-key” event in Tallahassee. “Florida and America are at a crossroads, and I think you’ll see the governor’s decision reflect that,” LeMieux said.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , ,

RPOF Chair: Crist Needed in DC

From the Orlando Sentinel’s political blog, more hints dropped about Governor Crist’s potential run for US Senate.

It is the political version of the face that launched 1,000 ships.

Florida’s dreary, $66.5 billion spending plan, passed over the objections of many hard-line Republicans and the faux protestations of Democrats, is set to start the dominoes falling toward a wide-open 2010 election season. Gov. Charlie Crist — no doubt tired of all the negativity in Tallahassee these days — plans later this week to announce which office he will seek in 2010, and all signs point toward the U.S. Senate.

Four big-name candidates have met with Florida Republican Party officials and prime donors to gauge the level of interest in seeking the governor’s office: Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Attorney General Bill McCollum, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota and Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson.

The huge costs a wide-open GOP primary could create was one reason why Crist asked Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer not to run for Congress next year and instead keep hold of the reins of the party.

“He indicated his preference that I do what I need to do as chairman,” Greer says.

Next weekend, Greer and Crist will be fundraising side by side in Key West as they go deep-sea fishing. Greer’s take on which job Crist will be seeking by then?

“He’s going to seek the office where he thinks he can best serve Florida,” he says. “And right now, a lot of the problems are coming out of Washington.”

Read more here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

Charlie Crist is Movin’ On Up

The speculation continues to grow about the political future of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.  I have long maintained that, based on his short-term governing strategy, he appeared to be preparing for a run for the seat of retiring US Senator Mel Martinez.  (In other words, Charlie is Movin’ On Up.)  It seems that others around the state are beginning to share those thoughts, including the St. Pete Times.

[T]he Crist-O-Meter got a nudge toward the senate thanks to the state Republican Party.

The Florida GOP suddenly last week launched a series of e-mails attacking Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, over her questioning of a no-bid contract awarded by Attorney General Bill McCollum and over Sink talking about investing public money in toxic assets. State GOP Chairman Jim Greer may or may not know Crist’s plans, but he certainly seems to have decided it’s wise to start softening up the Democrats’ strongest contender for an open gubernatorial seat.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , ,

GOP Chairman: Stop Talking About Bill McCollum’s Make-Up

Jim Greer, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, has fired the first round in the state’s next Gubernatorial race (whether that be 2010 or 2014).  Actually, the Democratic Party of Florida fired the first round last week when they attacked Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for awarding a no-bid $1.4 million contract to his former campaign consultants to produce a television ad for the web.  The Democratic Party took it one step further by revealing that $550 of that $1.4 million was spent on make-up for the Attorney General.  

Jim Greer has decided to lay the blame at the feet of Florida’s CFO, Alex Sink.  (It is presumed that Sink and McCollum would be front-runners for their party’s nomination if Crist does not run for re-election in 2010.)  Calling it a “partisan witch hunt,” Greer claims that Sink and the Democrats are attempting to destroy the credibility of Bill McCollum.  And, in keeping with politics’ version of Godwin’s Law, Greer lamented the harm being caused to “Florida’s children” by the criticism on McCollum.

Politics is such an honorable sport.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , ,

Republican Party Chair Getting Sued

You might remember our earlier conversations about the unbridled spending of Jim Greer, the state Republican Party Chairman. Despite such things as spa treatments, a $3,600 dinner for he and his wife and limo rides at party expense, Messr. Greer was re-elected in January. His detractors, however, aren’t taking his re-election (and spending habits) lying down. Ft. Lauderdale Attorney Michael Becker has announced his intentions to the Republican Party in a statement:

“This law firm is preparing litigation in which donors to the Republican Party of Florida will bring suit to demand a full accounting of RPOF’s expenditures in 2008 based on evidence that Chairman Jim Greer has abused his authority and utilized party funds for personal use which is both inappropriate and illegal under Florida law.”

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , ,

Vesctor Chairman Receives Additional Reward

John Rood, the founder of The Vestcor Companies and a recipient of millions in taxpayer dollars during the Delaney years, was appointed the Finance Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Rood, a prolific fundraiser for the GOP, had previously served in the high-stress role of Ambassador to the Bahamas under the administration of George W. Bush.

“Ambassador Rood is both a longtime supporter of the Party and a successful entrepreneur,” noted (RPOF Chairman Jim) Greer. “We look forward to working with him to develop our short and long-term financial goals and to secure the resources necessary to elect Republican candidates across Florida.”

Filed under: Florida, Jacksonville, , , , , , , ,

Greer holds on to RPOF post

Despite the controversy over his spending habits, including the party-funded Christmas card his family sent out, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer has won re-election. The race had promised to be a barn burner, with grumbling among party faithful about Greer’s spending habits, but he managed to pull in over 75% of the vote. Now the party will have to wait until 2010 to determine if they made the right decision.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, ,

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