Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Pasco, GOP stars fall in

Former Gov. Jeb Bush greets GOP supporters Friday during a fundraiser in Wesley Chapel.

EDWARD LINSMIER | Times

Former Gov. Jeb Bush greets GOP supporters Friday during a fundraiser in Wesley Chapel.

WESLEY CHAPEL — He was the rock star at the Pasco Republicans' Reagan Day dinner just five years ago, but on Friday Gov. Charlie Crist, the recently minted independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, was the man rarely mentioned by name.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker, called him Marco Rubio's "former Republican opponent."

Rubio, in turn, said: "Gov. Bush, it was great for Florida to have a Republican governor. Remember those days?"

"No funds raised tonight will be spent on a portrait of me," said Pasco GOP chairman Randy Maggard, poking fun both at Crist and the state party's well-publicized controversial spending. "You can laugh. … I've been waiting all night to say it."

How things have changed. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis said before the dinner began that he'd attended the 2005 dinner where it was Crist who brought the crowd to its feet. "Yeah, I do remember that," he said. "But he abandoned the party and a lot of people are disappointed. … They're very comfortable with Marco."

Bush, making his first campaign appearance with Rubio, praised what he called the courageous efforts of Republican state legislators to pass an education bill that Crist vetoed amid strong opposition from teachers.

The former governor touched on many of the same small-government themes he has long pushed. He said President Barack Obama was pushing "redistribution of wealth" instead of encouraging entrepreneurial growth.

"The demonization of capitalism has got to stop if we're going to save the problems in our country," he said.

Rubio told attendees that a year ago, he was 30 points behind in state polls. In June, the Pasco County GOP became the first group to overwhelmingly endorse Rubio in a straw poll.

"As Pasco's straw poll goes," said Rubio to applause, "so goes the Republican primary."

In comments to reporters later, Rubio reiterated his support for offshore drilling even in the face of the oil slick threatening the environment and the economy. "There's going to be drilling in the gulf whether America's doing it or not," he said, citing Cuba's interest. He said the United States needed to find a way to stop the problem, then figure out what went wrong and how much BP should pay.

About 600 Republicans attended Friday night's fundraiser. Among the attendees were Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is running for governor; state party chairman John Thrasher; Senate President Jeff Atwater; and state Rep. Will Weatherford.

Crist's strongest supporter, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, did not attend because he had a previous commitment to a Relay for Life event in Trinity on Friday.

"The first Lincoln Day dinner, it used to be called the Lincoln Day dinner, in 1984, there was no one here," said Pasco Property Appraiser Mike Wells. "This one, everybody showed up."

One of the more interesting pairs?

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent, who walked into the dinner together, shaking hands and posing for photographs.

Just a week ago, Brown-Waite ticked off a number of Pasco and Hernando Republicans when she announced on the last day for filing that she would not run again, then promptly endorsed Nugent, who filed his papers to run just before the deadline. Local Republicans criticized that move as a clandestine ploy that denied them the chance to field other candidates.

But, hey, no hard feelings on Reagan Day.

"So far everybody has been wonderful," Brown-Waite told the St. Petersburg Times. "They're praying for my health. I could've stayed home, fearing a confrontation. But that's not my style."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

In Pasco, GOP stars fall in 05/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 7, 2010 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Arrests show construction licensing board's faults

    Editorials

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies launched a predawn operation and arrested unlicensed contractors. It was a needed crackdown on a problem that appears rampant in Pinellas because the agency charged with overseeing local contractors has no policing …

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies executed a predawn operation, arresting unlicensed contractors.
  2. Dade City teen arrested after authorities say he pulled fake gun on student

    Crime

    DADE CITY — A 14-year-old boy faces felony charges after he pulled a fake gun on a Pasco Middle School student near the school Wednesday afternoon, according to authorities.

  3. Live blog: Crowd shouts at Richard Spencer as he speaks in Gainesville

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  4. Koetter: Jameis Winston will test shoulder in practice Friday

    Blogs

    Will he? Won't he? It appears the Bucs' uncertainty over whether quarterback Jameis Winston can play through a shoulder injury Sunday at Buffalo will carry up until the final hours before kickoff.

    Jameis Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday.
  5. Dunedin man arrested for having destruction devices, deputies say

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Deputies will be speaking later today to discuss a Dunedin man who was charged with possessing destruction devices in his home.