Politics

GOP Weighs Primary Endorsement of Allen West against Martin County Sheriff

By: Kenric Ward | Posted: February 16, 2012 3:55 AM
Bob Crowder and Allen West

Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder and U.S. Rep. Allen West | Credit: sheriff.martin.fl.us

Just as Republican Sheriff Bob Crowder abandoned Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, GOP officials are distancing themselves from Crowder's primary run against U.S. Rep. Allen West.

"He's delusional," Martin County Executive Committee member Chuck Winn said of Crowder.

Winn said he expects GOP organizations in the 18th Congressional District to endorse West in the primary -- if Crowder even gets that far.

"I'd be surprised if he manages to make it beyond the May filing deadline. I don't see where he gets his support," said Winn.

The two men have a history of political disagreements going back to at least 2006, when Crowder declined to support now-state Sen. Joe Negron's unsuccessful bid to replace former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley in the 16th Congressional District. In the 2008 sheriff's race, Winn filed to run against Crowder as an independent, mainly to ensure a closed primary and force Crowder to face two more conservative Republicans before only Republican voters in a largely conservative county.

Crowder, in an interview with Sunshine State News, played up his long roots in Martin and St. Lucie counties, which comprise the bulk of CD 18.

"This is nothing personal. I admire [West's] military service. But this area needs someone who knows the district," said Crowder, who has been Martin County's sheriff for 20 years.

"There is a rising tide of people upset with gridlock in Congress. I want to find consensus," Crowder said.

Crowder did not identify specific issues where he would have voted differently from West. Nor could he point to any polling numbers or endorsements to bolster his uphill run against an incumbent with a $5 million war chest.

Crowder did admit that the TV ad he taped attacking Scott during the 2010 election hasn't sat well with Republicans.

"I caught a lot of flak for that, but I can handle it.

"Sure it will hurt with some hard-liners who may never forgive me. But a lot of people who were critical of me at the time have been in touch since then and said they agreed with it now," Crowder said.

Yet the sheriff's cold shoulder to the GOP was just the tip of the political iceberg, says Eric Miller, Republican state committeeman for Martin County.

"Bob has a tendency to take positions that are politically expedient for him. I don't need someone reaching across the aisle to Harry Reid.

"I'm going full guns against this guy, and I'm not letting him off," said Miller, who, as president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, clashed with Crowder over what he saw as lackadaisical or conflicting enforcement policies by the sheriff's office.

Local Republican parties can endorse in primary elections, and several members are angling to do just that in support of West.

St. Lucie County GOP Chairman Bill Patterson said, "Everyone I've spoken to in the Republican Executive Committee is a supporter of Allen West.

"West is the stronger candidate. He didn't do anything silly like endorsing Democrats in the last election," Patterson said.

Still, Patterson said, it is "premature" to discuss an endorsement before the St. Lucie REC meets on Tuesday.

Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein said that while he personally opposes endorsements in "open" seats, he has received a request to put the question on the REC's March 14 agenda.

"I will start by putting it on our Feb. 27 board agenda," said Dinerstein, who added, "If the sheriff had an ounce of integrity he would have switched parties and run as a Democrat."

Brian Hughes, spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, said there was no move at the state level to endorse in the CD 18 race ... yet.
 
"It doesn't go unnoticed that a sheriff, as a Republican, was happy to endorse a Democrat for governor," Hughes observed.

Winn said Treasure Coast Republicans have plenty of reasons to be infuriated with Crowder.

"He refused to endorse [Republican] Joe Negron in the 2006 congressional race and in Negron's 2009 state Senate campaign. Crowder doesn't understand the nuances of loyalty -- that will come back to haunt him," Winn said.

Crowder counters that he has early indications of support, including "encouraging" words from St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, a Democrat.

Mascara, reached by Sunshine State News, called Crowder "intelligent and pragmatic."

"I can't think of anyone better for Congress from this area," Mascara said.

In reference to red-meat Republicans, Crowder said, "I don't have any big problem with the tea party. But we have to maintain our reason and return to caring about each other. We need to pull it together."

Even the sheriff's toughest critics do not underestimate him.

"The electorate is at an uneducated level, and a local guy could get some traction," Miller notes.

But Republicans suggest that Crowder's claims to a hometown advantage may be overblown, since 25 percent of the newly drawn CD 18 carries over from West's current district. Both districts took on slightly higher Democratic voter registrations during reapportionment.

Miller asserts that, in the final analysis, provincial appeal doesn't necessarily make an effective congressman.

"What issues, really, does the Treasure Coast have at a federal level that Crowder knows best?" he asked.

Further stirring the Treasure Coast's political waters, tea party activist Everett Wilkinson said he might enter the CD 18 contest as an independent.

Asserting that West could be perceived as a "carpetbagger" for moving up from Broward County, Wilkinson, a north Palm Beach County resident, said, "It is natural that other people who live in the CD 18 consider running.

"I am one of those people considering running and would run either third party or independent to avoid a primary," said Wilkinson, who supported Bill McCollum over Scott in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary.



Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.




Comments (7)

ALLEN WEST MUST GO
6:33PM FEB 16TH 2012
"""Allen West is the face of the Republican Party"""

And THAT is why he will LOSE.
David S. Levine
3:29PM FEB 16TH 2012
Crowder is a disgrace to the Republican Party. His failure to support Joe Negron helped elect a Democrat to the seat--a Democ-RAT who went on to disgrace himself and the district. Along with personal peccadilloes this Democ-RAT supported all of San Fran Nan's llegislation including card check for unions which would have deprived working people of the right to a secret ballot in representation elections. Even the Obama senate didn't support that! Crowder supported the election of a Democ-RAT for Governor, one whose tenure as Chief Financial Orricer of the State was marked by laxness in fiscal management. He did so by making a commercial in uniform, thus disgracing it. Crowder is simply not fit to be even what he is, leave alone a Congressman.

In Alan West we have a true patriot--someone who put his life on the line for his country and numerous times. Unlike the Democ-RATS and those who collaborate with them Col. West supports America's allies, especially Israel. Col. West has the courage to speak out for our values when they are constantly denigrated by the controlling forces of the (anti) American media. If there is an American who belongs in Congress it is Col. Alan West and this American will be proud to be represented by him beginning on January 1, 2013.
Repubtallygirl
1:10PM FEB 16TH 2012
Sheriff Crowder is a RINO. He should be a Democrat.
GO WEST!
Repubtallygirl
1:10PM FEB 16TH 2012
Sheriff Crowder is a RINO. He should be a Democrat.
GO WEST!
Outspoken Conservative
10:47AM FEB 16TH 2012
Let's get something straight Republican Sheriff Bob Crowder did not abandoned Rick Scott, he flat out lied about Rick Scott.
I like this part!
"There is a rising tide of people upset with gridlock in Congress. I want to find consensus," Crowder said.

Crowder is clueless. There is a rising tied of people who want their country back. They want less government, they want less taxes, they want more freedom! When you are willing to sacrifice your values and principles for consensus you have neither values or principles. His commercial against Governor Scott and for the lying, cheating Democrat proves as much. I predict Loser.

However, what he did was no different than what the chairmen of local Republican Executive Committees quoted in this article did during the primary. They all hated our governor and the only thing that prevents that hate from shining through now is the (R) after his name. They cannot be trusted.

Just as disgusting is the Republican Party of Florida not endorsing Allen West! Are you kidding me? Lenny Curry should not only endorse West he should be out there campaigning for him. To say they are not going to endorse now just shows how clueless they are in Tallahassee. No doubt they are waiting for the approval of J.D. Alexander and John Thrasher, outstanding Republicans one and all. Cough.

Everett Wilkinson? Did I see Everett Wilkinson's name mentioned? This is a joke right? Where does someone begin with this clown? How about his failed attempt at suing the T.E.A. Party which was financed by the RPOF and John Thrasher. We could discuss his support and endorsement of that wonderful Tea Party candidate Bill McCollum of course he was not wonderful and he was not a a Tea Party candidate. No doubt Mr. Wilkinson will receive ample support from fellow Tea Party groups across the state. Not so fast as he has been removed from every state group and national group in the period of a year. Not to mention his failure to pay $6,000.00 for his last rally and the acceptance of bail out money from Donald Trump. I predict this one to be a Loser as well.

Let's face it, Allen West is the face of the Republican Party, the Tea Party and Conservatives in not only South Florida but all Florida, if not the nation. There is not a Congressional District in the country who would not trade their Congressman or woman for Allen West and these stooges are thinking of running against him.
Crowders_nightmare
9:53AM FEB 16TH 2012
I am curious about something. Bob Crowder said he believes that a Congressman should “compromise”. Maybe he can tell us what exactly it is he thinks we should compromise on? Should we compromise our values? Should we compromise on taxes? How about Defense Funding or Amnesty? Should we compromise on energy exploration? Compromise in Congress is another word for spineless. As a matter of fact, whenever I hear the term Congressional Compromise, I think of a synonym, “screwed”
In a successful marriage compromise works. It works because two people have varying degrees of similar goals and ideals. Compromise in Congress does not work. Each party has a well defined set of ideals and principals that are strikingly different. These are put forward in the platform of each party.
When a voter selects a Republican or a Democrat they assume that the person they vote for will honor their wish and adhere to the principals of the party, not “compromise” those beliefs.
It is equally important in this discussion to understand that Congressman West is not “leaving” his district as reported by the Stuart News and other media outlets. The simple fact is that twenty percent of the new District 18 is and was in District 22.
I have a feeling that we will soon see Bob Crowder on the side of a canal with his cane pole slowly spending his tax payer funded pension and enjoying retirement.

martingop.org/2011-platform/
Lynn Anderson
9:43AM FEB 16TH 2012
Mr. Crowder--GIVE IT UP!

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