BROOKSVILLE — Citing a party culture of infighting and power struggling, Cy Wingrove, chairman of the county's Democratic Executive Committee resigned his seat this week.
In a fiery, two-page diatribe to the committee members mailed out Thursday, he detailed his efforts to bring the party together to elect Democrats to public offices and how he met with opposition by cliques of members "determined to rule or ruin.''
While the resignation was surprising to Harvey Martin, president of the Hernando County Democratic Club, he said it was not a total shock. Also a member of the executive committee, Martin said members had hoped that all the conflicts had been settled.
"I guess he just got fed up with it,'' he said.
"It's very bad timing,'' Martin said, noting that the primary election is just two weeks away and all the active party members are working to get absentee ballots into the hands of voters and get them to the polls to early vote.
"Right now everything needs to be cohesive,'' Martin said.
But cohesiveness is the one thing Wingrove's letter does not describe among the party's leadership.
"When I ran for the office of chair of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee, I was convinced I could make a difference,'' he started out.
"I strongly believe in order to have a viable local party, it is necessary to set aside the pettiness and bitterness exemplified by small groups of party members determined to have their way at the expense of party unity and electoral success,'' he wrote. "I truly envisioned this happening in Hernando County, despite the well-established and well-known divisions in the party here.''
But Wingrove, who was Powell Middle School principal before he retired, said that has not been his experience.
He details efforts he made to improve the executive committee's unity, financial picture and effectiveness but notes that "there continues to be a constant power struggle that drains energy from the members and the chair.''
Wingrove, who was elected to the chairmanship in late 2008, notes that people he thought were his supporters, it turns out, "were only backing me because they felt I might somehow eliminate their opposing factions.''
He details how as he tried to unify the factions, "a constant string of e-mails was immediately initiated to Tallahassee condemning me … and still they bicker among themselves and badmouth me.''
Abusive phone calls and e-mails, hopes by faction members that Wingrove's fundraising efforts would fail and a general lack of support haunted his every move, the former chairman described.
He concludes the letter stating that he provided the detail so that his fellow members would understand why he chose to resign. He also noted he would continue to actively work for the election of Democrats and the best interests of the people.
"As we all know from life's experiences, to acquiesce is to endorse and I refuse to acquiesce to the divisive cliques within the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee,'' Wingrove wrote.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.