The Republican Party of Florida Chairman, Jim Greer stepped down amid myriad criticism and some controversy, though he clearly does not put the blame on himself: Greer states the “internal discord” within the party has created two factions, and the opposing faction attempt to discredit and embarrass him, and ultimately “burn the house down and try and destroy the Republican Party.”
Jim Greer was handpicked by Governor Charlie Crist to head the Florida Republican Party, but recently has been accused of meddling in elections, and mishandling party affairs by party donors, and my Republican legislators across the state. Greer, however, disagrees with this assessment: “These individuals who have turned their guns on fellow Republicans instead of focusing our efforts on defeating Democrats have done nothing to serve our party,” in reference to, what the Huffington Post referred to as, the far-right faction.
Crist’s influence, and continued support of Greer, however, may be doing more harm than good: With Crist falling out of favor with many across Florida, Crist’s defense of Greer may not be doing much for Greer’s reputation.
“Under Chairman Greer’s leadership we maintained a strong majority in Florida’s congressional delegation and overwhelming majorities in the state House and Senate. Jim has long been a loyal servant to the Republican cause,” Crist said in Greer’s defense.
The splintered Florida GOP is nothing new: The contentious primary race between Governor Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat relinquished by Republican Mel Martinez, is the most visible form of this schism.
Crist is considered part of a consortium of moderate Republicans who are seen as “too liberal” (Crist initially supported the Stimulus, and have been called the “Green Governor”, for example) and amid the Tea Party movement’s growth and placement of their own candidate, Jorge Lovenguth, into the race, it’s no surprise far-right Republicans like Marco Rubio are beginning to see widespread popularity.
Crist, in essence, is seen as having “tainted” other Republicans who are running for statewide office: Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, in his race against Democratic State CFO Alex Sink, for the Governor’s office has seen both candidates distancing themselves from Crist, and his new found, arguable, reputation for careerist motivations, and his, seemingly. contrarian attitude towards Florida’s interests has helped neither his poll numbers against Rubio (he’s now tied, having lost his lead), nor his approval rating as Governor.
However, the endorsement of Crist, coupled with that of former, and still relatively popular, Governor Jeb Bush for the appointment of State Senator John Thrasher to the vacant spot.
“Sen. Thrasher will do an excellent job as chairman. John is such a fair-minded and balanced guy. I think he can restore faith and confidence going into this very important election year,” Crist said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “The leadership of Sen. Thrasher will have a unifying impact.”
Republican contender for Governor, Senator Paula Dockery feels Greer’s resignation, however, is a good thing: The Miami Herald reports that she “has criticized the way the party is being run, said she hopes Greer’s resignation is the first step in making the party more accountable with money.”
“I don’t think you can correct the problem until you address it fully and put it behind you,” Dockery said. “I’d hate to see us just change the person and not change the way business is done.”
“Now is the time to build our party, raise financial resources, register voters and reach out to all Floridians to share our vision for the future of the Sunshine State,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum, the front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor. McCollum, who also supports Thrasher as chairman.
The “blame game”, as it were, seems to be the biggest problem facing the Florida Republicans. As the Miami Herald points out, there are several major elections (For Governor, a Senate Seat, three Cabinet positions, et. al) where no incumbent is a candidate. With popular Democrats like Alex Sink, Kendrick Meek, and Dan Gelber running for Governor, Senator, and Attorney General, respectively, the Republican foot-hold on Florida may loosen if the party does not unify. This was, apparently, a major factor in Greer’s decision to resign, unification, rather than the plethora of accusations and pending scandal.