Greer quits, Thrasher expected to head GOP
Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer resigned his post Tuesday, effective Feb. 20. He is expected to be replaced by state Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine, a former House speaker and formerly a prominent lobbyist. He would have to be elected to the post by GOP activists and would serve as chairman through the November 2010 election.
For the past week, a cadre of party insiders has been searching for a way to negotiate a graceful exit for Greer while finding a replacement who would be viewed as acceptable to various GOP factions and legislative leaders heading into a tumultuous and unusually active election year.
Thrasher, 65 (right), can apparently retain his Senate seat while serving as party chairman. Senate president Jeff Atwater, who controls some appointments to a state party executive committee, appointed Thrasher to that panel Tuesday so he's legally eligible to hold the chairmanship. Thrasher is close to former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose forceful endorsement in a special election last fall after the death of Sen. Jim King was seen as crucial to Thrasher's victory.
Greer was the hand-picked choice of Gov. Charlie Crist to run the party in 2007, but he has has been in freefall for months. He has been spending virtually all of his time fending off criticism of his management of party finances and his meddling in contested party primaries on behalf of Crist, while demands for his resignation by Republican activists have reached a crescendo in recent weeks.
Despite an orchestrated vote of confidence at a state GOP meeting last month, the timing of Greer's announced resignation is no accident: He faced a vote of party leaders at a state GOP meeting this Saturday in Orlando, a vote he might not have survived.