State GOP Chairman Jim Greer, a magnet for criticism from local party leaders and major donors alike, got an official and overwhelming vote of confidence from his executive committee Thursday. But don't think for a moment that means his job is secure.
Key party leaders and activists are racking up votes to rescind Greer's chairmanship in January in a secret-ballot vote. What started as an effort to force Greer to go quietly now looks likely to erupt in an ugly public battle when Republican party officials gather in Orlando during the Jan. 9 weekend.
The names most often mentioned as successors are former House Speaker Allan Bense and current Majority Leader Adam Hasner.
Greer's ouster would be a giant blow to Charlie Crist, who has remained Greer's champion amid a steady barrage of complaints about his hand-picked chairman's spending and efforts to push aside Crist's U.S. Senate rival, Marco Rubio.
"I'm very proud of his work. I have total confidence in chairman Greer,'' Crist said Friday.
Greer was an early backer of Michael Steele for Republican National Committee chairman, who was raising money in Tampa last week. Steele also said he had full confidence in Greer.
"I have a great deal of respect for him. I know it's tough. Jim is controversial. Heck, I'm controversial. Leadership can be controversial sometimes and it should be controversial sometimes,'' Steele said.
But little matters more in politics than money, and some of the key money people who bankroll the Florida GOP are in full battle mode. The point man is Southwest Florida developer Al Hoffman, a West Point graduate and former RNC finance chairman who is demanding that Greer step down. He's apparently speaking for other mega money-raisers too.
"It is time for you to resign in order to end the excessive, irresponsible, unethical, and perhaps illegal spending that has marked your administration and has moved the Republican Party from millions of dollars in surplus at the time you took office to millions of dollars in deficit by the end of this month,'' Hoffman wrote in a letter Greer brushed off as ill-informed. "It is time for you to resign in order to restore faith in the ability of the party to spend wisely and restore confidence in the many of our donor base who have withheld giving as long as you are at the helm, myself included."
Adam C. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.