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Greer Out, Thrasher Expected to Lead State GOP

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Bowing to months of pressure, Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer will resign at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in a teleconference with party leaders.

State Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, is expected to succeed Greer and serve out the remaining year of his term. A special election to elevate Thrasher is being planned for Feb. 20, sources told the News Service of Florida.

Greer, who was re-elected to a two-year term as chairman last January with support from almost 80 percent of party leaders, fell amid a steady stream of criticism from many of those same officials for free-spending at the party and his support for Gov. Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate Republican primary.

Once he leaves the party chairmanship, Greer is likely to join Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign as an advisor, sources said. In recent days, top party fund-raisers and former House Republican leaders were among those publicly calling for Greer’s ouster.

Amid the turmoil, Crist, House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, worked over this past weekend to position Thrasher as a successor.

Thrasher, who is expected to retain the Senate seat he was elected to last fall, also is likely to be moved temporarily into a party leadership position from his home St. Johns County before the Feb. 20 election, party sources said, to set the stage for his election as chairman.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who cut television advertisements supporting Thrasher’s Senate bid, is among party leaders poised to send statements today praising his pick as party leader.

Greer’s resignation blunts what had been shaping up as a contentious Republican Party meeting this weekend in Orlando, where dissident leaders had called for a special meeting to rescind the chairman’s election last January. Greer had ruled that such a move was prohibited by party rules, but a tough intra-party fight was expected.

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