Greer Calls January Meeting, Expect Fireworks
Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer bowed Tuesday to the demands of dissidents – sort of.
The embattled leader set Jan. 9 for a special meeting demanded by vice-chairman Allen Cox and at least 50 other party leaders who signed a petition calling for Greer to either resign or they would push for his ouster.
But Greer said party rules do not allow for his opponents to call for rescinding results of the vote last year in which 77 percent of party leaders re-elected him to a second, two-year term.
“The RPOF Constitution and Rules do not permit consideration of a motion to rescind the election of an officer,” Greer wrote in a letter to members of the state executive committee.
Republican Party Spokeswoman Katie Gordon Betta acknowledged that Greer's response effectively sets the stage for a wide-ranging discussion of the chairman’s job performance, but not a vote to remove him.
In a defiant letter sent to the same audience Monday night, Greer said he will “absolutely not” resign and blamed much of the dissent within the party on members supporting Marco Rubio in the Republican U.S. Senate primary against Gov. Charlie Crist, whom the chairman backed.
“I’m sure there will be a plethora of issues for them to discuss” at the Jan. 9 meeting, Betta said.
Cox, who repeated his call Tuesday for Greer to step down, told the News Service of Florida, “It’s not about Rubio. It’s about the money.”
While Greer has maintained that the party has a $1.5 million budget surplus, Cox, who was stripped last week of his role as budget committee chairman for leaking internal documents to the media, said the Florida GOP is running a $4 million operating deficit under Greer.
Wakulla County state committeeman Allison DeFoor said that if the move to rescind the January 2009 election is not allowed, it’s likely that a “no confidence” vote would be put before the entire party executive committee, which includes roughly 240 leaders.
“My guess is that he can count, and that’s why he’s not allowing the vote we want,” DeFoor said.
While Greer, a former Oviedo city councilman chosen to be party leader by Crist, has blamed Rubio forces for the party upheaval, a maverick Republican gubernatorial candidate also weighed-in Tuesday against him.
Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, demanded that Greer release credit-card records and “expenditures of party donations” going back to his election as chairman in 2007.
“It is simply time to come clean, put the records on the table, admit any wrongdoing and move on with the task at hand: uniting the GOP and defeating Democrats with conservative Republicans in 2010,” Dockery said.
“If Chairman Jim Greer doesn’t understand this, then perhaps he should step aside for the sake of party unity,” she concluded.
Another state senator, Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, also told the News Service that Greer should step aside – for no other reason than to remove himself as the focus of dissent.
“It’s just time to settle this controversy,” Bennett said. “He doesn’t seem to realize that leading a political party isn’t an individual sport. It’s a team sport. And he’s losing the team.”
Greer, however, retains Crist’s support and earlier this month earned overwhelming support in an unscheduled confidence vote put before members of the party’s executive board, meeting in Tallahassee.
On Tuesday, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, tapped as the next Senate president, both refused to weigh-in on whether Greer should go.
“It is a messy situation, though,” Cannon conceded.