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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Maggard takes over GOP in Pasco



As expected, Randy Maggard of Zephyrhills is the new chairman of Pasco County Republican Party. Former chair Bill Bunting's hand-picked successor bested former vice chairman Steve Graves of Land O'Lakes, 80-27, in Thursday night's vote.

Seeking to ease years of discord under the tough talking New Yorker Bunting, Maggard and Graves gave each other thumbs up. "If you notice, I don't talk foreign like Bill does," Maggard later told the crowd with a big of Southern drawl.

As expected, some people outside Bunting's graces who were publicly elected to the party executive committee were not allowed to join. Bob Ryan of Hudson, who was part of a neighborhood group seeking to oust Bunting in August, was barred.

"It appears that there is a paper trail that verifies the submission of our necessary oaths to the RPOF but mysteriously we were denied seating," Ryan said this morning in an email to the Times. He is hoping Maggard can help him join, in lieu of Ryan suing the GOP.

Besides winning election, precinct leaders had to provide loyalty oaths by noon June 20 to the chairman or someone acting on Bunting's behalf. That assumes Bunting was open to taking them -- Ryan and other critics say he dodged them.

State party officials and state Sen. Mike Fasano intervened, and most of those people were accepted. Bunting estimated there were a total seven people barred for late oaths, based on a list the Republican Party of Florida provided of accepted candidates. He had originally tried to boot 27 people. But Ryan and Leonie Wyckoff, another member of the eight-person cabal against Bunting, were excluded from the party list.

It turns out the dissidents from Bunting sent oaths in two sets. The first set, which Graves received and sent to the party, didn't have Ryan or Wyckoff's oaths ( Download meahl_bunting_letter.jpg ). Another two were sent later, but it's uncertain to even Ryan whether it was June 20 or 21. A receipt is dated June 20, but a fax confirmation lists June 21. Ryan and supporters note Bunting's dodging created the mess.

Bunting has described Ryan and others as people who have volunteered for the local party organization, and noted Ryan supported Tom Gallagher in the 2006 governor's race instead Bunting's choice, Charlie Crist. He said 62 people joined the party board Thursday, tops in the state and a sign of enthusiasm for the local party's direction

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:42am]


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