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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Thrasher won't bully Republicans to shun Crist



The Republican Party of Florida recently reminded members about the loyalty oath to temper support for Gov. Charlie Crist's nonpartisan bid. But GOP Chairman John Thrasher said the party won't force top Republicans to shun Crist.

"It's not up to me to enforce it," he said. "I'm not going to go out and whipsaw people to ask them to go after their money."

(Though it appears the Republican Party did erase Crist's prominent placement on it's website, instead featuring Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp on the main page.)

Thrasher said a number of Republicans will "feel betrayed by him" if Crist bolts from the party, as is expected.

"I hope he doesn’t use any justification for what he’s doing on the basis that ‘the Republican Party has left him’ because our principles are still the same," he said, previewing the messaging that is sure to come tomorrow.

He added that Crist can't run as a nonpartisan and still claim to be a Republican. "That don’t cut it for me," he told reporters. "You are either a Republican or you’re not.That’s why we have R's behind our names."

On the other side, Crist supporter Mike Fasano laid the groundwork for a nonpartisan run.

"I'm a big believer that after what we’ve seen here and in Washington that more people are distancing themselves form the major parties and want to see someone as an independent, or a nonpartisan, who represents all the people, not just a certain few or a political party," said Fasano, a New Port Richey state senator.

"Whatever decision he makes will be the right one and I will support him," he added. "If it’s nonpartisan, I think he has an outstanding chance of getting elected."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:32am]


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