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 jtillman@sptimes.com 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. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges

    Criminal

    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?

    Editorials

    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination

    Civil

    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.