The leadership of the St. Johns County Republican Executive Committee (SJCREC) dealt a blow to the grassroots and derailed recent attempts to reconcile long standing differences with the Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida (RLCNEF).
Thursday night it refused to allow RLCNEF members access to a meeting where State Committeeman Jon Woodard stepped down and State Senator John Thrasher was elected to Woodard’s position.
The election of Thrasher to Woodard’s State Committeeman post clears the way for Thrasher to run for the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chair position to be vacated on February 20th by Jim Greer.
There is a level of excitement within the party that has not been seen in a long time surrounding the race to succeed Jim Greer. Greer’s re-election a year ago has resulted in a leadership implosion within the RPOF. Thrasher, a sitting Republican State Senator, is seeking to lead the Republican Party out of its doldrums. Unfortunately for Thrasher, the SJCREC appears to have added fuel to an internal firestorm.
The latest in an unfortunate series of events occurred when the majority of the SJCREC members were not given notice the meeting would be closed in Executive Session, and only received the news upon their arrival at the meeting that night.
To further exacerbate matters, SJCREC officials – allegedly in preparation for the vote on Senator Thrasher – performed a “purge” of the membership list for the stated purpose of removing members who had missed three consecutive meetings pursuant to state bylaws.
The purpose and accuracy of the list purge is in question, however, as RLCNEF member Cliff Johnson who is also a sworn member of the SJCREC and who had not missed three consecutive meetings, was told that he was not eligible to attend the Executive Session or vote in the Special Election.
While SJCREC leadership claimed that access to the Executive Session was limited only to SJCREC members, at least four members of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee who support Thrasher were allowed inside while known opponents of Thrasher and supporters of Sharon Day – also a candidate for State Chair – were told they must stay outside.
In a protest against the double standard and blatant cronyism on display, RLCNEF Chair John Stevens entered the meeting despite being told not to do so. Stevens was then asked to leave and refused. SJCREC officials called police and Stevens was escorted from the meeting. No charges were filed.
Chairman Stevens desired to attend the meeting to ask Thrasher what position he would be taking on Orange and St. Johns County REC members removed by Greer through the never-before-used grievance process last year. Stevens commented regarding the incident, “It was unfortunate that it had to come that. The RLC is working for accountability within the Party and we would prefer to do so quietly from within; but if members are being locked out and denied an opportunity to be heard then we are left with no option but to make our voices heard publicly.”
This incident in St. Johns is eerily similar to a situation that occurred last year in Orange County where Orange County Republican Executive Committee (OCREC) Chair Lew Oliver prevented members of the OCREC from voting in the election for Oliver’s seat; the people barred from voting were supporters of his opponent, Deon Long, who is now running for the 24th District of the U.S. Congress.
Many of the registered voters of Florida agree with the message of the Republican Liberty Caucus. The RLC’s message has begun attracting large numbers of people statewide. Support has poured out from around the state as this struggle with the corruption within the party has continued. Many of the recent changes in the RPOF leadership started at the grassroots level with large groups of dissenters, such as the RLC, calling for honesty and transparency in our elected leaders.
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida
About The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida:
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida is a coalition of traditional conservatives and liberty minded Republicans working within the Republican Party to promote individual liberty, smaller government, state and national sovereignty and the Constitution. The caucus advocates the return of our nation to the values and intentions of the Constitution and our founders.