Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Florida GOP Infighting Continued

Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer is leaving his post in February after being set upon by far-right wing elements within the party. From the Miami Herald:

Days before Republican activists planned to vote state GOP chairman Jim Greer out of office, he bowed to their pressure Tuesday and resigned suddenly in a blow to Gov. Charlie Crist, who had picked Greer for the post and stood squarely behind him to the end.

”I cannot be a participant in the shredding and tearing in the fabric of the Republican Party,” Greer said in announcing his decision and accusing critics of spreading false accusations about his leadership and financial management.

State Sen. John Thrasher, a former Florida House speaker, emerged as the consensus replacement choice of establishment Republican leaders, though county party leaders raised concerns about backroom deals to anoint a new chairman and questions arose about Thrasher’s ability to hold office and lead the party at the same time.

Republicans on all sides of the increasingly bitter internal divide hoped Greer’s decision would unite a deeply fractured state party even as Thrasher potentially faces a contested election for chairman next month and as bitter feelings remain about the direction of the once mighty Florida GOP.

Lest you think that this is some moderate vs. fringer battle, remember that Mr. Greer is not a moderate by any reasonable definition of the term in the overall spectrum. Remember that he garnered national attention last fall when he accused President Obama of trying to indoctrinate school children to his “socialist agenda” when it was announced that the president, like Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush before him, would address them at the start of the school year. So if Jim Greer isn’t right-wing enough for the ruling class in the state GOP, it will be interesting to see what Mr. Thrasher has to say.

This development has some interesting implications on both the state and national level. First, it makes life very rough for Gov. Charlie Crist both in his run for the open Senate seat and in the upcoming legislative session, and it also makes life interesting for Republicans running at the state level in other races: moderates need not apply. On the national level, this sends the signal to other state parties that if it can happen here, it can probably happen there, like in Ohio, Michigan or Colorado.