UPDATE: Another Crist pal jumps campaign shipby Dara Kam | April 20th, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist‘s campaign says his website hasn’t changed at all now that the U.S. Senate candidate is openly considering dropping out of the GOP primary and running as an independent.
“No Republican references have been scrubbed from our website, period,” Crist’s campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an e-mail.
Rep. Tom Grady resigned as Crist’s regional campaign chairman today and quit his finance team, citing the website that makes no reference to the governor’s GOP affiliation.
Grady, a Naples Republican who was elected to the House in 2008 at Crist’s urging, is the latest GOP ally to distance himself from Crist and his U.S. Senate campaign after Crist admitted he is considering abandoning the Republican primary race against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and running instead in the general election in November with no party affiliation.
“This evening, as I reviewed your updated campaign website, I noticed a disheartening fact. Your website has eliminated all references to our Republican Party, or as you frequently refer to it, the party of Lincoln,” Grady wrote in a letter to Crist today distributed to the media by Trey Communications.
Once a sure shot to win in the primary against Rubio, recent polls show Crist trailing the Miami Cuban-American by about 20 percentage points.
Yesterday, National Republican Senate Committee Executive Director fueled speculation that Crist would abandon the GOP race saying there was “zero chance” Crist would run against Rubio.
Grady was one of the few Republicans who attended the governor’s press conference at which Crist announced he would veto SB 6, the contentious teacher merit pay measure pushed by GOP leaders in the legislature.
Former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III, Crist’s mentor whose name the governor frequently invokes, withdrew as Crist’s campaign chairman after the veto Thursday.
Read Grady’s letter after the jump.
This evening, as I reviewed your updated campaign website, I noticed a disheartening fact. Your website has eliminated all references to our Republican Party, or as you frequently refer to it, the party of Lincoln.
As a long-time personal friend, I had suspected you were considering a break from the party when my recent calls went unanswered. This comes at a time when we clearly differ on what it means to be a conservative with a firm belief in less government, less taxing, less spending and more freedom.
That is why it is with sadness that I write this letter to you, my friend and mentor.
In May 2007, as you were leaving for a state visit to Israel, you called and encouraged me to run for the state House of Representatives. You said I should join you in Tallahassee and serve the people of Florida. I accepted the challenge. Like you, I campaigned as a Republican, and a solid fiscal conservative. With your help, I was elected in 2008.
Then, we both agreed with Abraham Lincoln, the founder of our party, who stressed that “Important principles must be inflexible.” Those conservative free market principles we both campaigned on were – and remain – just that.
But more recently, a statement from Peggy Noonan better illustrates what appears to be your guiding principle as Governor. Noonan wrote, “Politics is about policy. It’s not about who’s emotional and who cries or makes you cry.” I agree. Unfortunately, I don’t believe you do, or at least you no longer do. Your recent actions have not been about policy, but about emotion and crying. Policy and people have suffered as a result.
We have always disagreed on some important issues (market based insurance, claims of climate change, judicial appointments), but the list appears to be growing (education excellence, ending entitlements, rail). Thus, it is with sadness that I hereby resign from the Statewide Finance Team and as the Southwest Florida Regional Chairman for the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate campaign.
Regardless, I continue to value our friendship. Let’s be sure that does not change. Ann and I look forward to that dinner we’ve been planning with you and your lovely bride, Carole, and I hope we can do that soon.