On February 20, 2010, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) will hold its quarterly meeting in Orlando. This meeting is the culmination of a very bitter, but needed, dispute on what path the RPOF will take as it tries to make itself relevant again in Florida Politics.
In 2008, Florida went Blue for Obama, but wow, what a difference a year makes. A Republican Governor who cynically assumed that Obama represented the political future quickly, and much to his regret later, literally hugged and supported Obama and his massive “stimulus” bill which has proven to be a total failure by any measure or definition. The result: A young political prodigy has done the unthinkable and now leads our incumbent governor in the race for the open U.S. Senate Seat.
On the down side, our party has been rocked by scandal which led to resignation of the House Speaker and eventually led to the resignation of our Party Chairman. And just as this is happening, a populist, grassroots movement is making itself felt in practically every county and is not afraid to tell both Democrats and Republicans to go to hell.
We Republicans are at a crossroads. Registered Republicans and local party activists feel that the officials they elect have lost touch with the them and all they see in return are stories of high living Pols who refuse to tell them how their donations are spent while local county organizations go begging for funds.
This is a fact. This must change.
There are two legitimate candidates for Chairman of the RPOF: Florida State Senator John Thrasher of Florida District 8 and Sharon Day, the Republican National Committeewoman from Broward County and Secretary of the Republican National Committee. Succinctly stated, Sen. Thrasher is the Establishment candidate while Committeewoman Day represents the frustrated grassroots.
I have criticized Sen. Thrasher in the past (See Here) and I stand by my post. I also thought his challenge to Ms. Day to see who could raise the most money in a specific period of time to be a crass and essentially superficial publicity stunt. However, two men I admire, one who I have met via Emails and another who I have NEVER met have endorsed Sen. Thrasher. Sid Dinerstein, Chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County who provided me invaluable assistance with research on the recent “Bullet train” bill and how it will eventually be an financial albatross around necks of Floridians, has endorsed Senator Thrasher. In addition, Allen Cox, who sacrificed his post as vice chairman of the RPOF in to get Mr. Greer to agree to resign (and was very critical (and right!) about Jim Greer’s handling of RPOF funds) has also endorsed Sen. Thrasher. These two men feel that the Senator is our best choice we currently have. (And before you point it out to me, I know Sen. Thrasher has donated to Democrats in the past, including Allen Boyd, the Florida “Blue Dog” Democrat and who should be target #1 for the GOP in 2010). Also, there are serious questions of the legality of Sen. Thrasher’s ability to raise funds while the Senate is in session. (I’ll leave that one to the lawyers).
On the other hand, Committeewoman Day has been endorsed by a wide array of Grassroot activists and Republican activists, including Barbara Wall, my own county GOP Chairwoman. Sharon Day has an impressive GOP resume and has made more grassroots involvement in State Party affairs a cornerstone of her campaign. The knock on her is that she has full plate a far as GOP politics go (She is Secretary of the Republican National Committee, a very important position that does require a lot of work.)
Both candidates have other jobs they are required/elected to do. Both of these candidates know that this election is only for a chairman to get us through the 2010 election. Both these candidates have agreed to some fundamental changes in the way business is conducted in the RPOF.
So, who do I support?
My heart says Day, but my head (and the facts) says Thrasher.
Now is not the time to gamble on Ms. Day as our chairman. Practically everyone agrees that Sen. Thrasher is a rainmaker. He will ABSOLUTELY bring in the BIG bucks for the RPOF and make no mistake, the RPOF is low on funds, thanks to Jim Greer. Between now and November 2010, we must have a massive influx of funds to a) keep our congressional seats we own and b) do our part for the national GOP and take over vulnerable Democratic seats. You want to stop Obama’s agenda? Then you are going to need COLD HARD CASH to get the word out, run commercials, make signs and hire staff. (You are a fool if you don’t think the Democrats are going to flood the state with money come this election season.)
The Grassroots are fooling themselves that they can substitute only enthusiasm in place of cash. No, if we, the RPOF, are to hold what we have and, in addition, turn some congressional seats from blue to red, we are going to need cash to run ads, INCLUDING ATTACK ADS. And before anyone tells me that Obama won by gathering massive amounts of small contributions, I got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. I strongly suspect that a large part of Obama’s funds were bundled from professional, machine political thugs. Democrats don’t hesitate to use thug tactics and buy votes. We need money to counter such actions. Senator Thrasher is, by all accounts, the man that can ABSOLUTELY make that happen. (It would be a good gesture by Senator Thrasher to make a public vow BEFORE 20 February that target number one for the State GOP is to oust Allen Boyd from his seat, but that is just my feelings.)
Bottom Line: This election in 2010 is important and the RPOF cannot be caught short of cash. We are one of the most important states in the Union. We need to be aware of that fact, act accordingly and, most importanly, responsibly.
For Ms. Day: Your time will come, probably faster than you expect. You are a valued and important part of the GOP team. I expect Sen. Thrasher to listen and heed your advice on how to get the grassroots more involved.
Now, my choice as RPOF Vice-Chairman, it is a no brainer. I wholeheartedly endorse Deborah Cox-Roush for Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Here is a person who a) was one of the first to stand up to Jim Greer and took LOTS of personal heat for that act and b) has made it her goal to get the grassroots base and local party more involved. Since I am asking you to vote for Thrasher, then you better vote for Ms. Cox-Roush or YOU WILL alienate the base.
I am convinced Ms. Cox-Roush will spearhead reforming the way the RPOF manages its budget, making it more transparent and more accountable to our party county chairmen and state committeemen/women . She will work to open up the lines of communication between the RPOF and the county organizations that do all the local grassroots activities. She has spent her time in the political trenches and understands the problems and desires of our county Republican organizations.
I, without hesitation, endorse her a the best choice as Vice-Chairman of the RPOF.
So there you go. Senator Thrasher for RPOF Chairman and Ms. Cox-Roush as RPOF Vice-Chairman. A damn good combination for 2010 and for Republican victory.