Andy Palmer, who was nearly begged by Gov. Rick Scott to take the job as executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, is leaving his post to join the Tallahassee lobbying/consulting corps by joining the law firm of Metz, Husband and Daugthon, P.A. as a senior policy advisor. Palmer's more of a campaign and political guy than a lobbyist, but his wide contacts at every top level of Florida government make him a perfect paid advocate who could command top dollar. What's more, Palmer is one of those rare political animals who has few enemies.
“Not only is Andy Palmer a trusted advisor to Republican leaders across the state, but he was instrumental in the nationally recognized success of Florida’s Presidency 5." Scott said in a written statement. "He helped restore confidence in the Republican Party of Florida and got the organization back on track financially. Andy will be sorely missed.”
Palmer's decision to leave is the second shake-up at RPOF, where beloved chairman Dave Bitner passed away last month after struggling with ALS. Bitner was replaced by former vice-chair Lenny Curry, who was replaced in turn by Hernando County's Blaise Ingoglia.
So who replaces Palmer?
There seem to be two leading candidates: Mike Grissom (the party's deputy executive director for political affairs) and Brian Hughes (the party's communications director). While both are on friendly terms and the Republican Party isn't mired in political suicide, the specter of the bitter 2010 Republican gubernatorial race hangs in the background.
Grissom was the field director for Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose campaign trashed Scott mercilessly and left him deeply wounded heading into the general election. Scott already passed over Grissom in favor of Palmer, who was tapped in January after Bitner's election.
Hughes is a former spokesman for the goverrnor's office and, before that, worked in both the Florida Senate and then the successful 2010 campaign of CFO Jeff Atwater.
But, of course, Palmer's replacement could be someone else entirely.
In a statement released today, the Republican Party of Florida announced that Executive Director Andy Palmer will be leaving the party on October 14. Palmer has been Executive Director since January and previously served in the position during 2005 and 2006. He has been a key political strategist for the party and Republican officials for years.
Governor Rick Scott said, “Not only is Andy Palmer a trusted advisor to Republican leaders across the state, but he was instrumental in the nationally recognized success of Florida’s Presidency 5." Scott added, "He helped restore confidence in the Republican Party of Florida and got the organization back on track financially. Andy will be sorely missed.”
Palmer was instrumental in efforts that led to electing a super majority in the Florida House of Representatives. House speaker Dean Cannon, said, "Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Andy, and he has become a trusted friend and confidant. Under his leadership the party has prospered and I am sorry to see him go." Cannon concluded "I wish him the best of luck and look forward to working with him as he pursues a new venture.”
Palmer also worked side-by-side with Chairman David Bitner who recently lost his battle with ALS. Bitner's successor recognized their collaboration. "Dave and Andy helped restore the confidence and enthusiasm of Republicans across the state," said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry. "As the 2012 elections approach, our party will win due to the planning and preparation put in place by Andy. Andy will be missed, but I wish him well and know that he will continue to be someone who advances our Republican cause."
RPOF has begun the search for a new Executive Director and will soon announce the choice to ensure a successful transition. Palmer is leaving to join the law firm of Metz, Husband and Daugthon, P.A. as a senior policy advisor.