Jim Greer, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, beat two more conservative candidates to be elected chairman of the powerful Rules Committee of the national party today.
The vote was Greer - 27, Jim Ash of Arizona - 20 and Curly Hoaglund of North Dakota - 4. Greer was backed by RNC Chairman Michael Steele and has been the target of sharp criticism from one of the chairman's former rivals.
"Parties are judged by wins and losses, and under Jim Greer's leadership, Florida turned blue," South Carolina Chairman Katon Dawson told The Hill in an e-mail before the party vote. "[Former] Gov. Jeb Bush governed as a conservative and the Republican Party flourished under his leadership. But Jim Greer has chosen to abandon our party's core conservative principles and the results speak for themselves."
Greer is facing some troubles back home, with scattered local activists continuing to question his spending practices -- wining and dining, traveling with an entourage on donors' dimes, et al -- and heavy handed approach to the 2010 contests. Some critics are predicting fireworks at the party's Aug. 21-22 meeting in Orlando, but an outright coup is highly unlikely.
Greer's leadership of the Rules Committee strengthens his hand in several ways. It raises his national stature, making it harder for critics at home to take him down. And more importantly, Greer's new post puts Florida Republicans in a better position to defend their early presidential primary that defied the national party's rules in 2008 and cost the state half of its delegates to the convention.