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Daniel Ruth

All Florida GOP needs now is seltzer, cream pies

This isn't a political party. It's a Three Stooges pie fight meets the Borgias. At some point Saturday, Florida Republicans gathering in Orlando to select their next chairman will be asked to pick someone from a list of a candidates one would think more closely resembles the cast of The Sopranos.

Are the party members attending the meeting supposed to cast a ballot, or make their preference known with a blackjack?

Usually it is the Democrats who bring all the decorum of a panty raid to the conduct of their affairs. Who would have ever guessed the normally pinched, no-nonsense, orderly Republicans would find themselves trying to settle on a new chairman with a process that looks like a fraternity hazing rite?

If all the poltroon-fed rumors are to be believed, party activists are expected to replace the discredited, free-spending and indicted former chairman, Jim Greer, with either a candidate with hootch issues, another with a checkered domestic past, a complete dip but a ruthless dip, a dictatorial power-hungry Hitler 2.0 or an apologist for former Gov. Charlie Crist, independent ne Republican.

So much for Ronald Reagan's much admired but obviously out-of-date 11th Commandment about Republicans never speaking ill of one another.

Do you get the feeling if the Gipper was in this race he would be forced to fend off whispered criticisms that he liked to slap around women because of his role in The Killers?

The storm that's promising to turn Saturday's gathering of party faithful into a Jerry Springer chair-throwing moment began some months ago with the steady release of dark, foreboding anonymous e-mails smearing the various candidates.

Hillsborough Republican chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush was attacked for a 2004 drunken driving charge. But since the GOP is long known — and frankly much admired — for its open bars, should this really be an issue?

Next, former Rep. David Bitner of Monticello had to fend off an anonymous e-mail accusing him of domestic violence, forcing him and his wife to rebuff the charges.

Not to be outdone, Orlando Republican consultant Doug Guetzloe sent out his own missive accusing Pinellas state committeeman Tony DiMatteo of engaging in a "Nazi-like purge" of various party members. Well, at least Guetzloe had the common decency of attaching his name to his attack so everyone would know who was acting like a silly, creepy person.

Look, DiMatteo, whatever his shortcomings, simply wants to be a big-shot state political party chairman. There is zero evidence he wants to invade the Sudetenland, or for that matter murder 6 million people in concentration camps.

Finally, Palm Beach County's Sid Dinerstein was dismissed as a viable candidate in an anonymous e-mail that cast him as a brutal, but really stinky county chairman who looks like "a Xerox repairman with a clown tie." Who knew having all the fashion sense of Pee Wee Herman was a disqualifying factor in running the state GOP?

About the only black spot related to Sarasota County party chairman Joe Gruters, who also would like to assume the statewide post, seems to be that he once said something nice about former Republican apostate/outcast/pariah Charlie Crist. But Gruters quickly said he was sorry and would never do it again. Now there's some statesmanship for you.

Who will get the golden opportunity to lead one of the most dysfunctional groups of people since the Donner Party remains unclear. According to one Republican hotsy-tot, David Johnson, plenty of people are offering heartfelt pledges of support for one candidate or another although they are probably lying anyway.

Johnson described the canard-fest as "beyond belief." Really? After all, in a campaign that has involved back-stabbing, innuendo, duplicity and craven displays of unsourced, unnamed, unattributed character assassination, why would anybody be shocked that someone's word has about as much credibility as John Edwards?

Of course much of this intrigue-lite could have been avoided. If Gov. Rick Scott, the titular head of Florida Republicans, had simply exercised his prerogative to announce his own preference for the job, perhaps the chairmanship sweepstakes might not have descended into an episode of The View.

But Scott is a relative newcomer to insider state Republican machinations. There have been some indications the governor has said pleasant things about Gruters. But then again, maybe he didn't.

Are you sensing that being tapped to run Mel Gibson's public relations makeover would be more rewarding than taking over the venom-smeared reins of the GOP — the Grand Old Piranhas?

All Florida GOP needs now is seltzer, cream pies 01/13/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 6:40pm]

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