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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Al Austin endorses Sharon Day for GOP Chair



Looks like not all the establishment/money folks are lined up behind John Thrasher for state party chairman. Former state party finance chairman Al Austin sent this:


Dear Committee Members:
As Republican leaders, you know how critical it is that we have exceptional leadership at the Republican Party of Florida right now.  The results of recent elections in Massachusetts and New Jersey have shown us that voters are no longer satisfied with business as usual conducted behind closed doors. On February 20th, we can send a message that Republicans got the message loud and clear.  I know the Committee is currently considering different candidates to lead our Party in the next 10 months.  As the former Finance Chair for the Republican Party of Florida from 1998- 2006, and as someone who has had the honor to raise millions of dollars for the State Party and outstanding Republican candidates like Ronald Reagan, Jeb Bush and George W. Bush over the years, I would like to share my thoughts with you on the matter of party leadership and fundraising.

We are fortunate as Republicans to have so many people who are willing to generously support our Party’s ideals and principles of limited government and more freedom.  These are core beliefs that most, if not all of our donors, deeply believe in.  What matters most of all to our donors is having a high level of confidence that their hard-earned financial contributions to our Party will be used efficiently AND effectively to elect Republican candidates to office. 
I can tell you without any qualification or hesitation whatsoever that Sharon Day will restore the much-needed financial integrity and transparency to our state party finances, and she will ensure that every contribution a donor makes will be used effectively and efficiently to elect Republican candidates.  Because of my confidence in Sharon’s leadership of our Party, I have told her that I am willing to assist her in any way I can in reaching out to Republican donors and bringing the “Under New Management” message to them.  Sharon’s passion for our Party and its principles, as well as her determination to bring fiscal responsibility to our party, will be applauded by our donors, and I am absolutely confident that they will respond positively and generously to her leadership of our party.
Money is often called “the mother’s milk of politics,” and as a finance person I certainly recognize that without money it would be virtually impossible to win elections. However, money alone is not the answer – the formula for success must also include leadership that understands Party workings from the grass-roots level to the State and National committees.  In 2008 we had incredible financial resources but we lacked this bottom-to-top understanding, and as a result we suffered the embarrassment of losing our state to the Democratic candidate for President.  Our county organizations were never properly motivated, and we lacked the drive necessary to fight back against an opposition that worked hard on the ground.
You should know that I have advised Sharon that an election for Chair of our Party should not be reduced to a crude fundraising competition, and that she should not campaign for your vote as such.  Raising money is important, but you can't put a number on integrity.  You can't put a number on passion and dedication to our party.  And you can't put a number on leadership.  Those who would try to do so don't understand what our Party is really all about.
While I have great respect for Senator Thrasher and all of his accomplishments, I feel that we need someone who can give 100 percent of their time to the RPOF.  From February 20th to November is only a little over eight months.  The current political climate has provided us a rare opportunity to make huge gains in our state and that is why, at this critical time, our party needs and deserves a full time Chair.
For that reason and the others that I have outlined above,  I therefore urge all members of the Executive Board to follow my lead and that of so many others by endorsing, supporting, and on February 20th proudly voting for Sharon Day as the next Chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
Most sincerely,
Alfred S. Austin

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:15pm]


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