GOP's Fierce Florida Fight

Posted: May 15, 2009 6:06 PM
GOP's Fierce Florida Fight

The tribulations surrounding the GOP’s endorsement of Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio – and the implications it could have for the moderation of the national party - are wrapped up in internal squabbles among Florida politicos.

At issue is Florida’s “Rule 11,” which holds that party members are able to block out a given candidate in a primary election if they deem the candidate unfit to run. After the rule is invoked, no primary race is held – instead, GOP insiders get to decide the election.

In Florida’s GOP, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer, a friend of Crist’s, tried to invoke the rule to ruin Rubio’s chances before he ever got off the ground.

“Rule 11 was a procedural matter that was logical because of the already official support that Charlie Crist has received, from the majority leader to the Senatorial Committee that has all the resources,” Greer told the St. Petersburg Times blog.

Rule 11 allows the national party to pool its resources on a single candidate, and was designed to prevent “crazies” from entering into an election. If a candidate who would seriously damage the GOP were to gain momentum in Florida, party insiders would be able to procedurally disqualify him.

If Rule 11 was used against Rubio, he wouldn’t receive any of the cash necessary to fund his campaign.

But Greer may have an uphill battle trying to block Rubio. For Rule 11 to take effect, three individuals need to sign off on it. That would be Greer, the state party chairman, and two national committee members – one of whom has said yes, and the other of whom has said no.

“It's meant to be used very cautiously to protect the party,'' National Committeewoman Sharon Day, a longstanding Crist supporter, told the St. Petersburg Times blog. "We have a process and it allows the voters to choose the candidate - and that's called a primary."

Since Greer tried to sabotage Rubio, a flurry of local Florida districts have moved to condemn him. FGOP members in Broward, Brevard, and Hillsborough Counties have made a fuss about “dictatorship” within the state party, and ignorance of the “underlying philosophies of party primaries.”