Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer, facing growing criticism over meddling in the U.S. Senate primary, is backing off. In a detailed letter to party supporters, Greer explains and defends his actions but said the party is now "neutral" in the contest between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.
"Now it is true that my conversation with my National Committee colleagues, although considered to be confidential at the time, was immediately disclosed to the press for motives I do not understand, let me conclude relating to this issue that the rule letter 11 matter is over, the National Committeewoman did as reported, refuse to sign and I do not intend to pursue the matter any further. As it relates to the Senatorial primary, the State party is neutral, no resources have been provided to one candidate over another and although I will personally support Governor Crist, I have great respect for former Speaker Rubio and his long service to our Party."
Greer's full letter, which also addresses the governor's race, is in the jump.
Dear State Committee Members,
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide each of you as brief update on several initiatives that the State Party has undertaken along with addressing certain concerns relating to Florida’s upcoming elections.
First, I am currently in Washington D.C. at the RNC State Chairmen’s meeting and I was honored to be asked by the RNC to speak to other State Chairs regarding best practices of our State Party and some of the other projects which Florida has implemented which continues to make the Florida GOP a recognized leader among the states. Each member of the state committee can be proud that through your leadership many people here at the conference comment to me that Florida’s programs such as minority voter outreach, fundraising and communications are among the best.
In addition our DriveTheDiscussion.com website and upcoming kick-off is getting much attention and we have had over 10,000 hits to the website with many new contacts along with preparation for our upcoming youth conference. I believe that this DriveTheDiscussion.com communications network along with other components will become recognized nationally which will once again show that the RPOF leads the way.
As many of you know, I have always focused on issues I believe are important to the Party’s overall success and, ultimately winning elections. Maintaining my focus on these important issues and ensuring that the staff did the same has kept me from engaging in issues that some wished to promote for motives that may not have always been in the best interest of the Party, or in many cases simply was due to a lack of credible information. This brings me to the discussions surrounding the party’s endorsement and support during potential primary’s and RNC Rule 11 along with our own RPOF Rule 9. While a small group apparently has promoted certain information which has caused concern, I wish to take a moment to clarify and provide you with accurate information.
As Governor Crist made his decision to seek the Senate seat, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) made a decision to endorse and fully support Governor Crist in the Senate race regardless of primary election considerations. In addition, many leading Republicans immediately followed with their individual and collective endorsements. In as much as the Senatorial Committee endorsed Charlie Crist and because he is an incumbent Republican Governor who has provided unprecedented support of the Party’s financial needs and grassroots programs, it was appropriate in my opinion, to inquire if the National Committeewoman and National Committeeman would be in support of a Rule 11 letter (which has been done before in other GOP federal elections primaries, most recently for Congressman Bill Posey). I would also note that a rule 11 letter has nothing to do with the state party. It is simply a designation by the RNC and in fact due to the Senatorial Committees endorsement had little relevancy but would have been more of a procedural matter. Now it is true that my conversation with my National Committee colleagues, although considered to be confidential at the time, was immediately disclosed to the press for motives I do not understand, let me conclude relating to this issue that the rule letter 11 matter is over, the National Committeewoman did as reported, refuse to sign and I do not intend to pursue the matter any further. As it relates to the Senatorial primary, the State party is neutral, no resources have been provided to one candidate over another and although I will personally support Governor Crist, I have great respect for former Speaker Rubio and his long service to our Party.
Now as it relates to the Governor’s race, I have from the very beginning believed that the Democrats would unite around Alex Sink as they have done, avoiding a costly primary and be fully financed and prepared to challenge our Republican nominee in the general election. As Chairman, I met with and had several discussions with all the potential candidates for Governor and emphasized my belief that in this unique time, and with redistricting approaching, I needed to promote and provide leadership in insuring that our Party was unified behind one candidate for Governor and that all resources be available to combat the democrat campaign which would be formidable. After, meeting with and evaluating all of the circumstances, it became my belief that Attorney General Bill McCollum was the candidate in which “all rivers were flowing towards”. I then proceeded to insure that the Attorney General had a strong showing of support including myself at his announcement this past Monday! While my attendance did not convey official party support, I did make it clear that as Chairman all steps would be taken to unite behind General McCollum while at the same time recognizing the public service of Commissioner Bronson and the other great Republicans who considered running for Governor. I make no apologies for this decision, as I believe to do anything less would have provided our party with a significant disadvantage in the general election due to having a costly and combative primary! I would note that 15 minutes after Alex Sink declared her candidacy for Governor, the Chairman of the Florida Democrat party along with other leading democrats issued a state of endorsement and united support.
In conclusion, I would first like to thank those of you that have spoken with me by phone and email regarding these issues including those in support of my decisions and those adamantly opposed. I have been committed since becoming Chairman to providing information to the state committee more than ever before and seeking opinions and dialogue to the decisions that I am required to make as your Chairman. This is why I have taken the time to communicate to each of you through this email. It is time that our party and its leaders focus on what is important and that is winning elections and discussing the issues that are important to the voters such as the economy, health care, employment opportunities and education. Primary elections are in most cases good and provide for political discussion as in the Senate race and others, but in unique circumstances such as the Governor’s race where the Democrats will have none, I and all of us have a responsibility to WIN!!!
It is an honor to serve as your Chairman and I thank you for taking the time to read this important correspondence.