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Florida delegates arrive -- at the Republican equivalent of Siberia

Florida's convention delegates and party faithful streamed into the Innisbrook Golf and Spa resort on Sunday, right on schedule, as the hurry-up and wait for convention activities began. They were handed white bags with blue trim, loaded with RNC swag from water bottles to a beach towels.

But if the gray clouds, persistent drizzle and tropical storm warnings weren't enough to dampen the mood in the swank, sprawling resort, the lack of convention buzz certainly was.

The conventioneers face an hour long drive, each way, to get to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and convention headquarters. Buses have been reserved for the trips but travelers were urged to be vigilent about departure times.

This is the Republican equivalent of Siberia. Comfortable and lovely, the resort features a golf course, spa, swimming pools and restaurants. It is owned by Sheila Johnson, co-founder of the BET network and a major Democratic contributor.

But it's not Tampa. In fact, door-to-door, it is 25 miles away from the convention hall. The closest thing to the convention was the three TV monitors set to Fox News in the darkened meeting hall.

Also at the resort: the delegation from South Carolina. Both states are being punished for state legislative leaders setting the presidential primary in January in violation of party rules.

"We welcome our partners in primary purgatory,'' Commissioner Adam Putnam announced at a morning breakfast on Monday as both Florida and South Carolina delegates and guests met officially for the first time.

Also addressing them was Gov. Rick Scott, who briefed them on the status of the storm. "The RNC was so nice to us, we don't have to worry about the beach,'' he said.

The storm forced the delegates to cancel plans for an evening at Busch Gardens on Monday. But organizers were prepared in the event conventioneers wanted to play inside. RNC sponsor, Disney, had set up a miniature version of Cinderella's castle in the Innisbrook meeting hall. The space also features two bars and a floor filled with game tables -- foosball, air hockey, ping pong and pool. Sunday night, the room was used for delegate karaoke.

Florida Republican Party leader Lenny Curry, who told the Tampa Bay Times in May that he was "p----- off'' at the hotel accommodations when they were announced by the RNC officials, convened the quarterly meeting of the party executive committee and reminded them, "It wasn't your decision."

Notably absent from the Sunday meeting were the legislators who led the charge for the primary switch -- such as Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera, R-Miami, a members of the executive committee..

Said Curry back in May: "We're one of the most important swing states, if not the most important swing state, and our activists and our donors are going to be punished for something they had nothing to do with."

Comments

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David

I bet Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos will be far from the Florida delegates.

Nascar Dad

Mary Ellen,

Your loathing of the Republican Party makes you irrelevant in the political world. Will you travel to Charlotte and demean the few Democrats that show up without a storm, or will you demean those that don't. Oh wait, you won't report on that at all. Go away.

Jonathan Swift

I've stayed at this resort. It's hardly "roughing it." Aww, so they don't get to stay downtown at the very tony Marriott Waterside, for example, with those very convenient trams to Channelside and Ybor City. So they have to stay at a resort owned by a black woman. Of course, she's a Democrat---but c'mon, would a any self-respecting Jew be a member of the Nazi Party? I think not! At least she's an entrepreneur, right? But I guess the fact she's a very wealthy woman who doesn't mind paying her fair share of taxes is a bit galling to those who work tirelessly to reduce the tax burden of the wealthy---at the expense of poor and middle-class Floridians, of course. Their lodging accommodations may be a bit remote, but it is very, very comfortable, albeit a bit quaint in interior design. Think very classy, but unpretentious---kind of a "Mad Men" motif, if you will. Very nostalgic, but very pleasant, nevertheless. Far more than these class-warriors deserve.

whasup

Well, you know, if we did things the right way, the taxpayers would not pay the tab for any party's primary elections.

Instead, if a political party wanted to use the state's election apparatus to run one of their party primaries, the political party would pay for those costs.

Isn't way past time we, the citizens and taxpayers, kicked all political parties off the public payroll?

Then all this internal party squabbling would be just the hissy-fits thrown by some private club member factions who don't get their way whenever they want ... courtesy of the Florida taxpayers.

The goings on inside the political parties--in both parties--between their true-believing, lock-step marching, hyper-partisan minions are irrelevant to most real citizens and taxpayers ...

and the taxpayers shouldn't pay one dime to help them run their own political power games, even if the political parties were not responsible for the idiotic, irresponsible way their "leaders" have been (mis)managing the government.

harry houdini

Jonathan, what are you drinking you rambling fool!

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