Good memory is not forte of Pasco's Republican Executive Committee

Pasco's Republican Executive Committee members sure have short memories.

This week, the committee unanimously approved a resolution scolding Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer for his early, enthusiastic and heavy-handed (according to some) support for Gov. Charlie Crist in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Mel Martinez. So far, the moderate Crist is opposed by the more conservative Marco Rubio, the former speaker of the state House of Representatives.

The resolution states that Greer's actions, since Crist's announced candidacy, have contravened and ignored, among other things, the principles and ideals of the Republican Party, the underlying philosophies of party primaries and the objectives set forth in the Constitution of the Republican Party of Florida.

The only thing missing was a good harrumph. Or a better spell-check. The resolution misspells the governor's name as "Christ.'' Guess the party faithful are looking for a different sort of savior.

So, when the other guy gets favored treatment, Pasco's Republicans are ripe with indignation. Yet, historically, they are unabashed in favor of wading into contested primaries and even rubber-stamping their own leaders' orchestrated endorsements in local races. This is a hoot. It's also called hypocrisy.

But the new standard is now established. Pasco's Republican Executive Committee is on record unanimously attesting to the principles of fair and unbiased primary elections for their party. Chairman Randy Maggard should insist on maintaining that sense of fair play when it comes to local races.

Let me be clear that the Republican Executive Committee — as far as I know — is not unanimously in favor of Rubio. Maggard said Wednesday he hasn't make up his mind and also said he champions impartiality in contested Republican primary elections. But, here's a sample of the party's neutrality in the recent past:

• The executive committee attempted to endorse three-term incumbent County Commissioner Pat Mulieri in the summer of 2006 when she faced two Republican opponents, but failed, by four votes, to muster the two-thirds majority needed.

• The same year, the committee endorsed and contributed $5,000 to the eventual losing candidate in a non-partisan school board race contested by two Republicans.

• The party gave a big thumbs up to Heather Fiorentino in her 2004 Republican primary against Chuck Rushe, even if it did take two tries to get the necessary quorum to vote on the endorsement.

• The executive committee backed a fresh-out-of-college Republican activist for the non-partisan Pasco School Board in 2004 over a three-term incumbent who was first elected as a Republican in 1992 when the seats carried partisan designations.

• The party has a rich tradition of meddling in primary races stretching back more than two decades. The Pasco committee patted itself on the back for a 1986 decision to go for an early endorsement of Bob Martinez in his GOP primary for governor. Members calculated then that forfeiting campaign filing fees was worth the risk because of the potential reward of backing the former Tampa mayor.

Maggard points out correctly that the activities in 2004 and 2006 preceded his term as chairman and came under the reign of Bill Bunting. True. Also ironic. Bunting benefitted personally in 2008 from a Crist endorsement and recorded telephone call to voters. The support came in the former chairman's rough-and-tumble campaign for state committeeman. Guess it was okay then to weigh in on a Republican-only election.

Maggard also can't distance himself that easily from Bunting's tactics. A member of the Republican Executive Committee since 2000, Maggard was around when Rushe and Fiorentino appealed for the party's backing in the summer of 2004. The GOP committee backed Fiorentino by a vote of 73- 1 with five abstentions.

You think Maggard went with the crowd and got splashed with ink from the rubber stamp? Abstained on principle? Or was the one dissenter?

"I can't remember what I did then,'' he said Wednesday.

Short memories, indeed.

Good memory is not forte of Pasco's Republican Executive Committee 05/20/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 4:53pm]

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