Acknowledging a disappointing election cycle for the GOP in the Sunshine State, Lenny Curry has sent letters to party members announcing his plans to retain the chairmanship of the Republican Party of Florida.
As your chairman, I have empowered the grass roots and been open to ideas from the committee, Curry wrote. I believe the chairman must be responsive to the board and the recommendations from the caucuses. I hope each of you will agree that I have made leadership more transparent and responsive to the executive board.
Executive Committee members are expected to vote on the chairman post in January.
While no formal opposition has been announced, Curry is coming off an election where Democrats won the states 29 electoral votes for president, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, won a third term, and after district lines were redrawn the GOP lost its supermajority in both chambers of the state Legislature.
The RPOF also took a strong stance against the three state Supreme Court justices up for retention and all three won with overwhelming numbers.
But Curry noted that the Republican Party remains the dominate party in both its congressional delegation and the state Legislature.
There were victories, although the spin from Democrats and their friends in the media make it harder to see, Curry wrote. We kept a Republican majority in Floridas congressional delegation allowing Republicans to remain in charge of the U.S. House. We also kept sizable majorities in the Florida Legislature in this first election after redistricting. And, I know the seats that were lost this cycle can be won back in the upcoming gubernatorial election year.
Curry was unanimously elected chairman in September 2011 by the 257-member Republican Executive Committee, taking over from David Bitner who had died earlier that month after a short battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
Curry, a business consultant and chairman of the Duval County GOP, had been vice chairman and had been backed by Bitner -- who had announced plans to step down -- to take over the leadership post.
With the 2012 elections over, we soon come together to set the course of the Republican Party of Florida for the upcoming Florida elections. At the annual meeting, I ask for your vote and support to continue to lead this great organization as chairman.
Make no mistake about it; I share your disappointment with the recent election results. There are many lessons I have learned this election cycle and during my tenure as your chairman. There are many more that we can learn together to move this party forward.
I firmly believe these elections were not a defeat of our core principles. And, they were certainly not a reason for bitter and divisive infighting. Instead, I believe they were a call to arms for our party to refine our message and better communicate it so that people better understand who we are and what we stand for.
I am a Republican because Ronald Reagan helped a hurting nation recognize that conservatism isn't simply about creating jobs or spending less money. It is about respecting the vision of our founders and carrying on a legacy given to us by our Creator. This nation is a foundation, and upon it any person -- no matter their race or gender -- can build a life filled with opportunity. At our core as Republicans we have ideas that are good for ALL Americans, and now we must work to ensure people hear this loud and clear.
In Florida, I want to lead us to back to that path of Reagan. Floridians need to see a strong, vibrant Republican Party. They need us to continue to lead at the state level and in our local communities. They need to see that we are a party that stands for real prosperity and opportunity for all people.
We narrowly missed delivering the state for Mitt Romney, and like the rest of the nation, Republicans were overwhelmed in a surprising election. But because of your hard work, 55 of our 67 counties had a better GOP margin than in 2008 and over 120,000 more Floridians voted for Mitt Romney than John McCain. We need to continue to build on those small successes and focus on increasing those margins.
There were victories, although the spin from Democrats and their friends in the media make it harder to see. We kept a Republican majority in Floridas congressional delegation allowing Republicans to remain in charge of the U.S. House. We also kept sizable majorities in the Florida Legislature in this first election after redistricting. And, I know the seats that were lost this cycle can be won back in the upcoming gubernatorial election year. Unlike the GOTV program this year, which was managed on a national level, our GOTV program for 2014 will be planned and executed by RPOF. When we manage our own GOTV program, we have historically seen overwhelming success in our state.
Please remember, the victories we had this cycle mean that Republican leaders -- working with Governor Scott and our GOP Cabinet -- will continue their successful work to turn around Florida. Florida is getting better every day, and Republicans can stand proud for having elected the team that makes this so.
As your chairman, I have empowered the grass roots and been open to ideas from the committee. I believe the chairman must be responsive to the board and the recommendations from the caucuses. I hope each of you will agree that I have made leadership more transparent and responsive to the executive board. I will not let the party be run with a top down, dictatorial approach. I will always work with the executive committee and board on the tough issues that routinely face our party.
The party also has the benefit of having a governor who cares deeply about our party. As a result of the commitment the governor has made to RPOF, we have had record-breaking fundraising for general party activities. In 2012 alone, we raised over $9.5 million and much of that money went directly back to the counties in the form of yard signs, Victory offices in counties, and assistance for your candidates in the races you deemed most important to you. We also saw tremendous returns from our direct mail and telemarketing, one of the surest signals that our party is recovering from Jim Greer's mismanagement. In 2010, RPOF had stopped the mail and phone program because it was losing money, but in this election cycle, the new program brought in over $2.3 million.
The fundraising success means we are in a great position to have committee-controlled budget line items to assist local RECs. The committee can expect numerous committees, such as the rural county committee, political committee and technology committee to have dedicated budget line items. This will allow committee members to administer much-needed funds to RECs in need.
Also, we are carrying over state dollars that we were not able to use in a federal election. You have my commitment that the campaign for 2014 starts today. These funds will be used to help maintain offices already established around the state. You also have my commitment to use these resources to actively engage in local off-year elections around the state to help build our bench.
Committee members, when I first took over this office, I did so with big shoes to fill. Chairman Thrasher and Chairman Bitner worked very hard to repair the damage and did a fantastic job laying the foundation for a new tradition of excellence within our party. And so I began my tenure as chairman with both a heavy heart and a lot to learn, but guided by the shining examples of these two leaders.
Our partys recent past includes turmoil that we, working together, fought to overcome. We have rebuilt trust and re-established financial discipline. More than that, I would argue that we brought back the mutual respect from grass roots, committee members, and our elected officials. I am proud to have been part of this healing process and stand ready to continue. This party has endured four chairmen in the past four years; I want to provide leadership and stability so we can continue toward my goal of making the Republican Party of Florida the model for state parties around the country.
I am asking for your support and your partnership to keep moving this party in the right direction.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.