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State GOP Holds ‘Productive, Frank’ Discussion

Productive; frank; an open discussion.

That’s how Florida Republicans Friday described their huddle in remote Howey-in-the-Hills a day earlier. The party’s executive committee gathered in the Lake County town in an attempt to ease hard feelings emerging from the Charlie Crist-Marco Rubio Senate race and state Chairman Jim Greer’s leadership.

“The end result was, the chairman got the message,” said Ed Kennedy, Broward County’s state committeeman. “And I think the message was to change his ways.”

Greer has been a lightning rod within the party over his support for Crist and gubernatorial contender Bill McCollum, both facing combative primaries, while his tendency toward freespending already prompted him to cut up his American Express credit card earlier this year.

Still, those participating in Thursday afternoon’s closed-door meeting said there was no call for Greer to step down.

But party leaders said they felt better after the air-clearing.

Greer hasn’t commented.

“It was very productive,” said Hillsborough County State Committeeman A.J. Matthews. “I think we feel that we’re getting to where we need to be, and that’s focusing on the next election.”

There’s been plenty of grumbling within the party over Greer and other top officials playing favorites in primary contests. But the party didn’t attempt to set a new standard requiring leaders to refrain from anything approaching even an informal endorsement.

The meeting wasn’t a formal party leadership meeting, so no final action could be taken. Instead, a wait-and-see attitude seemed to emerge from the session as far as Greer’s leadership is concerned.

“When you lead a state party of 67 counties, I don’t know if you can ever say that everything is all good,” said Broward County Chairman Chip LaMarca.

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