The chorus of Republican officials calling for the ouster of state GOP chairman Jim Greer grew louder Thursday as at least 50 party officials signed a letter calling for a secret ballot vote on rescinding Greer's chairmanship.
The move means a potentially contentious special meeting is likely to be held in January, but there's no guarantee that a vote will be called or that Greer would lose. Gov. Charlie Crist continues to stand firmly behind him.
"The governor and legislative leadership control about 40 percent of the state committee," said Rick Hartley, Republican state committeeman from Duval County. "Jim Greer engineered that without us knowing about it. If the governor would release his votes, we would remove Jim in a moment. I'm praying that any day now, the governor will thank Jim for his service and ask him to step aside — and not force us to go through months of parliamentary procedure and wrangling."
Hartley was among the signers of the letter accusing Greer of financial mismanagement and meddling in GOP primaries. Other signers included U.S. Reps. Jeff Miller of North Florida and Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville; county chairman Randy Maggard and state committeeman Bill Bunting of Pasco; county chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush and state committee members A.J. Matthews and Tina Pike of Hillsborough; and Pinellas state committeeman Tony DiMatteo.
Greer has drawn criticism before, but the public opposition has spread to some major donors and prominent Republicans.
"I think what he really needs to do is go full time with the Charlie Crist campaign for the U.S. Senate. That seems to be what he wants, and you can't serve two masters,'' said Ken Plante, a Republican lobbyist who served in the state Senate and as former Gov. Jeb Bush's chief of staff.
Times/Herald Bureau staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.