RPOF Chairman Thrasher on Crist, credit cards and condemnationby Dara Kam | April 21st, 2010
Sen. John Thrasher, chairman of the maligned Republican Party of Florida, has a lot to contend with.
Things are heating up in the legislature with less than 10 days to go before the session’s end.
Federal investigators are snooping around former high-ranking GOP officials, including his predecessor at the Party Jim Greer, and their credit card spending.
And Gov. Charlie Crist is considering abandoning the party that helped him to victory in the state Senate, two Cabinet seats and the governor’s mansion.
Crist’s consideration of dropping out of the GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and running as an independent in the fall has Crist’s former allies (and those who weren’t big fans of the governor to begin with) coming out in droves to distance themselves from the former sure-bet for U.S. Senate.
Thrasher offered some advice to Crist’s critics, including House Speaker Larry Cretul: Chill.
“Let’s finish this session on a high note. Let’s try to get some good public policy done here. Let’s let the governor be the governor and let the legislature be the legislature. That’s what I would advise anybody right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a budget to finish, some other policy issues to deal with,” Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, told reporters this evening.
The federal investigation into credit card spending by Greer, Rubio and former House Speaker Ray Sansom does not include the Party, Thrasher said.
“I do not know of any investigation of the Republican Party of Florida that is ongoing at the current time,” he said.
He said he’s doing what he can to clean things up.
“I can’t go back and fix what was done during the time before I got this job. I can’t do that. All I can do is be prospective about it and try to fix things so that none of those things happen again. And frankly I think we’ve done that and we’ll continue to do it,” Thrasher said. “We’re going to be very austere. We’re going to focus on Florida. I’m going to stay in Florida as much as I can. I don’t plan to travel outside the state of Florida for RPOF business unless it’s absolutely necessary and something I think will further our ability to elect Republicans this year. We’re going to have a new focus and a new culture and hopefully when somebody takes this job over next year they’ll inherit something that’s pretty good, pretty strong.”
As a senator, Thrasher’s restricted from raising money during the legislative session. He said that as soon as the session ends on April 30 “I plan on getting out there and testing the waters” to see dissatisfaction about the freewheeling spending that took place under Greer will hurt fundraising.
The RPOF chairman repeated his mantra of recent days and encouraged Crist to remain a Republican.
“Charlie Crist was elected governor as a Republican. He was elected attorney general as a Republican. He was elected education commissioner as a Republican. He was a state senator as a Republican. I think he ought to stay Republican. That’s all I’m saying,” he said.
But Thrasher said he hasn’t spoken to Crist, who vetoed a priority bill of Thrasher’s that would have revamped the way teachers are paid, about what the governor’s going to do.
“I haven’t had an occasion to. He hasn’t called me. He’s a busy man. He travels. I’m stuck here. I think he’s heard me. I think he’s heard me. I think he’s heard me,” Thrasher said.