Times editorial board criticizes John Thrasher for GOP chair
The St. Pete Times editorial board says state Sen. John Thrasher should choose -- either state Senate or GOP chairman:
Senate President Jeff Atwater on Tuesday appointed Thrasher to the party's executive committee, a necessary step if Thrasher is to be elected chairman in a Feb. 20 vote by that body. But Atwater's action is just the first example of the potential conflicts that would await Thrasher. Atwater is running for chief financial officer and will expect the state party to help his campaign. Was Thrasher's appointment to the executive committee Atwater's first attempt at currying favor? What about less prominent Republican lawmakers? How willing would they be to challenge Thrasher on a piece of legislation as he decides how to dole out campaign funds?
And how effective would Thrasher be working with Senate Democrats, since any deviation from hard-line Republican positions as a senator could undermine his authority as party chairman? The Senate has grown more partisan in recent years, but it remains the best venue for collegial, bipartisan consensus in the state capital.
Then there is Thrasher's conflict as chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. The post requires him to shepherd all legislation that impacts how political parties and campaigns operate. Whose interests will he represent in that role? Those of citizens who are best served when campaign finance is as transparent as possible? Or political parties, which prefer less disclosure and thrive on unlimited contributions?