by Javier Manjarres
Success or failure in the 2012 election cycle in large part rests on the work and effort the respective political parties either will or won’t do to support their respective candidates in their races. Florida will not only be an important battleground state, it could very well be the one state the Obama Campaign goes “all in” on to secure his re-election. In 2008, Obama carried nine states that former President George W. Bush won in 2004. If Obama were to lose eight of those states and yet hold onto Florida, Obama would be re-elected- a nightmarish scenario for Republicans.
The Democratic Party seems to have a slight edge over the GOP in the state of Florida of late, as it was able to win the City of Jacksonville’s mayoral race by unleashing a furious grassroots game that caught Republicans off-guard. While the Democrat victory in the race was achieved by the narrowest of margins, a win is a win, and the GOP needs to get its act in order 16 months in front of the most consequential general election in our nation’s history. The Florida Democratic Party on the surface at least seems to be working as a cohesive unit and in-line with the marching orders coming down from the Democratic National Committee.
But only about a year and a half removed from the ouster of Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Jim Greer (currently awaiting trial on a number of state charges), the RPOF has made noticeable gains and has been able to clean house of past party failings under Greer’s watch, but the consensus around the state is that its efforts aren’t enough and the message being disseminated by the Party is not an effective one.
To their credit, both RPOF Chairman David Bitner and RNC Co-chair Sharon Day have been pulling their weight by promoting the party and working with the limited resources available to them. One outstanding issue of critical importance is that party lacks a coherent message with which to reach the Hispanic community and with a message that restores confidence in the Party that was lost during the CharlieCrist/Greer era. The GOP cannot expect to simply tread water with Hispanic outreach and expect to be successful.
Another issue that the RPOF has to contend with that is even more troubling are the legions of Charlie Crist Republican retreads that secretly continue to support the former Republican Governor by supporting both his policies and his past associates in government.
Charlie Crist’s support within the Republican Party was evident in the 2010 Senatorial slugfest between former Congressman Kendrick Meek and now Senator Marco Rubio, as scores of “Charlie Crist Republicans” crossed party lines and voted for the Independent Crist and not the Republican Rubio.
The Republican establishment has long believed that the key to winning elections is found within the county GOP network. While there is some truth to this strategy, the fact of the matter is that most local GOP Executive Committees fail to pass the ‘motivated activist’ sniff test. County GOP’s like Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Hernando are a few of the successful REC’s that have proven their ability to turn out the vote to get their candidates elected and bring unity within the Republican ranks.
But then there are the dysfunctional and divisive county Republican clubs and committees such the Crist Republican top-heavy Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC). This Committee has become the talk of the state with all of the unnecessary drama that has unfolded from within it including verbal threats against a fellow board member, misreporting of disbursed funds and a cover-up, and a blatant disrespect by the Chairman to his superiors. All of these incidents have served to divide the GOP activists and loyalist from those who have been promised positive favor with the BREC, and talk continues to circulate of a possible recall of the Chairman amongst both detractors and now former supporters of the Chairman.
But it’s not all doom-n-gloom for the mighty Grand Ole Party in the lead up to the showdown for the ages with Democrats. If the GOP can get their messaging in order leverage the popularity of its up and coming national leaders like Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Allen West, and conduct a unprecedented grassroots outreach effort that brings new voters and supporters into the fold Republicans can win its statewide elections against the Democrats again in 2012.