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Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein wants to be state party chair

Monday, November 8th, 2010 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein intends to run for Republican Party of Florida Chairman.

Dinerstein, who’s held the county GOP’s top job for eight years, announced his intentions today in an e-mail asking Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee members to reelect him as county chairman next month. If he’s reelected to the county post, Dinerstein would then be eligible to run for the state chairman’s job in January.

Palm Beach County could have two party chairmen running for state posts. County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel said last week he’s interested in running for Florida Democratic Party chairman if current chair Karen Thurman steps down.

Dinerstein is one of several GOP activists jockeying for the top RPOF job. Others who have announced or received mention include RPOF Vice Chair Deborah Cox Roush of Hillsborough County, RPOF National Committeewoman Sharon Day of Broward County, Pinellas County Republican State Committeeman Tony DiMatteo and Sarasota County GOP Chariman Joe Gruters.

Dinerstein plans a formal announcement of his statewide plans later this week.

Read his e-mail to county GOP members after the jump….


Hot trend: GOP chair’s suit seeks to knock Dem Rader off ballot; Rader might sue back

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by George Bennett

Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein has filed a lawsuit seeking to get Democratic state Rep. Kevin Rader removed from the ballot over alleged financial disclosure failures in the highly competitive state Senate District 27 race against Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto.

It’s part of a new trend inspired by a judge’s decision last week to toss Tampa-area Republican state Senate candidate Jim Norman off the ballot because of disclosure deficiencies. Backers of Democratic congressional candidate Joe Garcia are trying the same legal strategy against Republican David Rivera in Miami.

Dinerstein’s suit follows the lead of a tea party activist’s ethics complaint that accuses Rader of trying to hide his ownership interest in an insurance underwriters group when he filled out financial disclosure forms.

Rader consultant Eric Johnson told The Post‘s Jason Schultz that a Rader supporter has filed an ethics complaint against Benacquisto and the Rader campaign might file a lawsuit over her use of campaign funds to pay rent on an apartment in Lee County.

Palm Beach County GOP votes down membership bid by son of former KKK wizard

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 by George Bennett

County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein and Derek Black at a 2008 meeting.

County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein and Derek Black at a 2008 meeting.

The Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a membership bid by Derek Black, an advocate for “the rights and heritage of European Americans” and the son of a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard.

Black, now 21, won a 2008 primary election for one of 111 executive committee seats. But the party voided his election because he had missed a deadline for signing a party loyalty oath. Black, who says the party didn’t give adequate notice that the deadline had changed, filed a lawsuit in February seeking to have his 2008 election recognized.

At Wednesday night’s Republican Executive Committee meeting, Black applied for a vacant seat on the REC, which requires approval from a majority of REC members. He was denied on an 87-19 vote, according to minutes published by the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches. An official tally from the party itself was not immediately available.

Black wasn’t immediately reachable today.


Son of ex-KKK grand wizard renews effort to join Palm Beach County GOP

Monday, January 4th, 2010 by George Bennett
Dinerstein, Black at December 2008 GOP meeting. Will they square off next in court?

Dinerstein, Black at December 2008 GOP meeting. Will they square off next in court?

The son of a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard is renewing his effort to be seated on the Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee.

Derek Black, now 20, won a 2008 election to one of 111 executive committee seats. But the party disallowed the election because Black hadn’t signed a party loyalty oath on time.

Now Black is disputing that decision and citing a court ruling on a similar dispute in Miami-Dade.


No equal time for Dockery at Palm Beach County GOP dinner, chairman says

Monday, January 4th, 2010 by George Bennett

Attorney Gen. and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum will keynote next month’s Palm Beach County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner.

McCollum’s primary rival, state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, is also welcome — if she buys a $195 ticket.

Find out why in this week’s Politics column.

County GOP chairman blasts his own party for rail spending

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 by George Bennett

Dinerstein: bus subsidies OK

Dinerstein: bus subsidies OK

Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein says his party let down taxpayers this week when the GOP-controlled legislature approved a multimillion-dollar package of rail spending that he considers wasteful.

“If the Republicans aren’t willing to defend the taxpayers, then nobody is,” Dinerstein said in an interview before Wednesday night’s county GOP meeting.


Baby-kissing tradition faces test in congressional race

Monday, November 23rd, 2009 by George Bennett

Graber with granddaughter

Graber with granddaughter

Democratic congressional hopeful Ben Graber features his six-month-old granddaughter in campaign signs and has toted her to political events. The head of the Kings Point Democratic Club isn’t keen on the idea.

Read about it in this week’s Politics column (third item).

Also: Palm Beach County GOP boss Sid Dinerstein backs a Democrat and a former Connecticut Senate candidate takes a “peripheral look” at a South Florida congressional seat.

GOP huddle hush-hush

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 by Dara Kam

The state GOP executive committee is huddling in a private meeting with RPOF Chairman Jim Greer appease demands from numerous county chairmen that he back down from what critics say are heavy-handed tactics.

Greer’s folks at Republican Party of Florida headquarters aren’t revealing anything about the meeting in Howey-in-the-Hills in Lake County. It’s the second meeting in as many weeks aimed at reuniting a splintered party made even more divided over the U.S. Senate race between Gov. Charlie Crist and ultra-conservative favorite former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Greer’s spokeswoman Katie Betta would not provide a list of attendees and said Greer probably won’t agree to an interview afterwards to debrief reporters on what went down.

“As far as the meeting goes, the Chairman has asked that we not release any information on the executive board retreat due to the confidential nature of the meeting,” Betta responded to a request for information in an e-mail. Greer “does not want to discuss the meeting,” she added.

Palm beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein can’t attend the GOP powwow because he has a Palm Tran meeting today. He said he thinks some board members will try to oust Greer, but the measure won’t succeed. Dinerstein has criticized Greer’s favoritism for Crist in the past but has said he does not favor booting Greer.


Palm Beach County Dems endorse 14.9 percent property tax rate hike

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 by George Bennett

County Democratic Chairman Siegel says $4.34 rate is OK

County Democratic Chairman Siegel says $4.34 rate is OK

As Palm Beach County commissioners prepare for a public hearing tonight on the 2009-10 county budget, the county Democratic Party is endorsing County Administrator Bob Weisman’s proposal to to increase the countywide property tax rate from about $3.7811 per $1,000 of appraised value to $4.344.

Because overall property values have declined, the 14.9 percent rate hike would generate roughly the same amount of revenue in 2009-10 as the county is getting this year and therefore wouldn’t meet the state’s legal definition of a tax increase. But homesteaded property owners, whose taxes have been relatively flat in recent years because of appraisal limits in the state’s Save Our Homes act, would see higher tax bills under the plan.


Local partisans butt heads over Obama speech to kids, feds’ suggested “help the president” exercise

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 by George Bennett

Obama speech to youth: inspiration or indoctrination?

Obama speech to youth: inspiration or indoctrination?

Having America’s youth listen to a speech by President Obama and then, at the suggestion of the federal Department of Education, write letters to themselves about “what they can do to help the president” sent many conservatives and Republicans into rhetorical orbit this week.

Our Laura Green reports that Palm Beach County school district officials haven’t decided whether to air Obama’s remarks to students on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education appears to be backing away from its “help the president” language, instead suggesting that students should write letters about “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.”


What they’re saying about LeMieux and Crist

Friday, August 28th, 2009 by Dara Kam



U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez:“I congratulate George LeMieux for being appointed by the governor to fill the remainder of my term. George is bright, capable, and an accomplished
administrator. My staff and I stand ready to ensure a smooth transition.”



Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is running against Crist in the GOP primary to replace Martinez: “This is a disappointing pick for Florida. George LeMieux is a talented political operative and the governor’s best friend, but that doesn’t make him the right choice to represent Florida in the Senate. Governor Crist had a wealth of consistent and principled conservative candidates to choose from, all of whom would have been a reliable check and balance on the excesses of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.”

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate: “Governor Crist was afforded a high responsibility with this appointment. Instead, he treated this process like a mockery, politicizing his selection by flying around the state at taxpayers’ expense, touring major media markets and drawing this selection out. Well respected Floridians with a wealth of elected service experience from Congressman Clay Shaw to Mayor John Delaney to various Hispanic leaders were in a position to hit the ground running if appointed, but that possibility is now nonexistent.”

jimgreerRepublican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer: “Once again, Charlie Crist has demonstrated his commitment to serving Floridians, by appointing George LeMieux who is well qualified, a dedicated public servant, conservative Republican and an excellent choice!”

Progress Florida executive director Mark Ferrulo: “It’s shocking. We wonder why Gov. Crist didn’t just appoint himself if he was going to pick his former chief of staff and campaign ‘maestro’. “The so-called ‘People’s Governor’ has made clear through this appointment that he places personal loyalty and his own political benefit above the interests of Floridians.”



Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican running to replace Crist as governor: “I congratulate George LeMieux on his appointment as Florida’s U.S. Senator. I have known George for a long time, both as a friend and as a former Deputy Attorney General, a capacity in which he served this office
well. I wish him the best in serving the people of Florida in the U.S. Senate.”

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Hari Sevugan: “With Florida’s economy in shambles, Charlie Crist could have selected a Senator who would be able to hit the ground running in Washington to tackle the problems that face Floridians. In appointing a political crony as a placeholder until he can run for Senate himself, Charlie Crist is using the Governorship to advance his own political ambitions rather than advancing the lives of the Floridians he was elected to serve.”



U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Boca Raton: “In short, George LeMieux will make an excellent Senator. I wish him great success and look forward to working with him in any way I can.”

Republican operative and political consultant Mac Stipanovich: “He was not the obvious choice.”



Marion Hammer, former NRA president who now lobbies for the same organization and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida: “The NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida are very pleased with Governor Crist’s appointment of George LeMieux as Florida’s new junior U.S. Senator. George is rated ‘A’ by the NRA and will be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment in the U.S. Senate. Gun owners can count on George LeMieux to fight to protect freedom and the Second Amendment.”

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff: “This is just one more example of the Republican leadership in Tallahassee putting cronyism and corruption above the people of our state. From Ray Sansom, to former lobbyist Bill McCollum, to George LeMieux, it is clear that we must stand together and pledge to end the Republican culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee.”



Former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, who was a finalist on Crist’s list of possible Martinez replacements and for whom LeMieux once worked as an intern: “George is a very, very capable guy and I’m sure he’ll do a good job. He’s a quick study, he’s articulate, he’s very close to the governor. I think it’s a good choice.”



State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, active with LeMieux in Broward County GOP politics since the mid-1990s: “He’s a smart guy, politically savvy, a hard worker. There’s nothing negative to say about George….He’s certainly smart enough to wade through the issues.”



Kirk Fordham, head of the Everglades Foundation: “George LeMieux is the right pick for Florida. He has a deep understanding of a wide range of regional issues that are unique to Florida. When it comes to protecting the people’s water supply and restoring the Everglades, we couldn’t ask for a better ally than we’ll have in Senator George LeMieux.”

Hastings to appear with GOP candidates at health care forum

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 by George Bennett

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, will appear with a pair of Republican congressional candidates from other districts at a health care forum next week organized by the Palm Beach County GOP.

Hastings contacted county GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein after seeing a Dinerstein quote accusing Democrats of ducking public meetings with constituents on health care. Hastings is scheduled to appear with Republican Allen West, who challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein of Boca Raton last year and is gearing for a 2010 rematch, and Ed Lynch, who challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler of Boca Raton last year and is planning on another challenge next year.

Dinerstein said he’s trying to line up another supporter of Democratic health care reform proposals to join Hastings on the panel.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m. at the county commission chambers in the Governmental Center in West Palm Beach. Seating is limited and those wishing to attend should call the county GOP headquarters at 561-686-1616 to reserve a spot.

The event carries almost zero political risk for Hastings. He represents a district that’s more than 4-to-1 Democratic and he was reelected with 82.2 percent of the vote last year.

Republican activist flushes chance to censure Crist; state GOP keeps eye on proceedings

Sunday, August 16th, 2009 by George Bennett



Barry Carson’s brief trip to the men’s room spared Gov. Charlie Crist the embarrassment of being censured by Palm Beach County’s Republican Party last week.

Carson, a Republican Executive Committee member from Jupiter, was out of the room and missed the vote when the rest of the committee split 65-65 on a resolution Wednesday night to rebuke Crist for his various departures from GOP orthodoxy.

The tie vote means the resolution failed.

Carson said he would have voted for censure.

mensroomBut after hours of debate and an earlier vote on whether to table the censure resolution, Carson went to the men’s room. When he got back, his name had been passed in the roll call of Republican committee members.

Carson said he told party leaders he was back and wanted to vote before the roll call was complete, but was ignored by county GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein and others who opposed censure.



“Sid didn’t want the resolution and because of my prostate problem he found a way to get it (defeated),” Carson told the Politics column.

Dinerstein said he didn’t know of Carson’s wish to vote until it was too late.

“This guy didn’t say a word until our vote was finished and recorded,” Dinerstein said. “To me it was a little like sending in your absentee ballot late.”


Big Brother: Not us, says state GOP

Big Brother: Not us, says state GOP

The Republican Party of Florida, which is chaired by close Crist ally Jim Greer, took an interest in the censure vote. Carla Rivera, a field rep from the state GOP, attended the meeting and videotaped the county GOP’s deliberations.

“We do that a lot of times when we go to events,” state GOP spokeswoman Katie Gordon said. “It’s not sort of Big Brother overseeing what the local parties are doing. We’re all on the same team.”


State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, is bolstering her Palm Beach County support as she runs for the Palm Beach-Broward state Senate district now held by CFO-seeking state Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach.



Bogdanoff is already backed by House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach. And the hosts for a Bogdanoff fund-raiser later this month include some big Boca Raton names: Mayor Susan Whelchel, Boca Councilwoman Susan Haynie, GOP activist Jack Furnari and former county Republican Chairman Tom Sliney.

Bogdanoff faces two Palm Beach County rivals — state Rep. Carl Domino of Jupiter and businessman Nick Loeb of Delray Beach — in a Republican primary in which about 64 percent of Republican voters live in Palm Beach County.




Retired educator Vincent Goodman, a Republican who was one of Crist’s four finalists for the Palm Beach County commission appointment that eventually went to Democrat Priscilla Taylor, has opened a campaign to run for the seat in 2010. Democrats have a 4-to-1 registration edge over Republicans in Taylor’s minority-dominated District 7.

Palm Beach County GOP considers censuring Crist tonight

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by George Bennett

Palm Beach County’s Republican Executive Committee tonight will consider a resolution to censure Gov. Charlie Crist for bucking the GOP on a variety of matters.

Crist has been criticized by members of his own party for appearing with President Obama at a Fort Myers rally to promote the $787 billion economic stimulus plan. He’s been faulted for not campaigning for some local Republican candidates in 2008 and for appointing Democrats to various posts — including Priscilla Taylor to fill a Palm Beach County commission vacancy last month.

Across Florida. Republican executive committee members tend to be more conservative than the average GOP voter, just as Democratic committee members tend to be more liberal than the average Democrat. Crist has been censured by the Volusia County GOP and lost straw polls of GOP committee members in Highlands, Pasco and Lee counties to Marco Rubio, his rival in the 2010 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein and other local GOP leaders oppose the motion to censure Crist. But there’s no telling how the entire committee, which has roughly 120 members, will vote.

Crist shrugged off the Volusia censure earlier this month, saying it had “not much” meaning to him.

Politicians, activists react to Martinez’s resignation

Friday, August 7th, 2009 by Palm Beach Post Staff

People in Florida and national politics reacted today to reports of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s impending resignation:

“Mel Martinez’s life is a testament to the boundless promise that exists in America, where a young Cuban exile can come to the United States without his parents and rise to become a Cabinet secretary and U.S. senator. As he looks ahead towards the next phase of his life, I wish him and his family all the best.
“As Governor Crist considers who he will appoint as Florida’s next U.S. senator, I urge him to take great care in his selection. Florida deserves an interim senator who will go to Washington and serve as a true check on President Obama’s push for more wasteful government spending, government-run health care and cap-and-trade. The last thing Florida needs is a U.S. senator that will stand with President Obama instead of challenging the wrong direction he is leading our country and offering constructive conservative solutions moving forward.”
— Republican former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a 2010 candidate for Martinez’s seat

“Senator Mel Martinez made history when he was elected to the U.S. Senate and I wish him only the best in his future endeavors. It is fitting that one of Senator Martinezs final votes was to confirm a history-making Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor and I am so pleased that he cast this vote one that I wholeheartedly support.”
— Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a 2010 candidate for Martinez’s seat

“Mel has been a good Senate colleague of mine, as well as a personal friend. He also has been a dedicated public servant for Florida. I look forward to our continued friendship — and to having the same bipartisan working relationship with his successor.”
— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

“I have a great deal of respect for my good friend Mel Martinez. I know this decision was a difficult one for him, but I think he is doing what he believes is right for him and his family. We will immediately begin the process of selecting an appropriate replacement to serve the remainder of Senator Martinez’s term and I look forward to making an announcement in the coming weeks.”
— Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican candidate for Martinez’s U.S. Senate seat

State GOP “impotent,” former chairman says

Friday, July 24th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Infighting within the state GOP has weakened the party so badly that it is verging on irrelevant, a former party chairman says — despite its overwhelming dominance in the legislature and its decade-long lock on the governor’s office.

Other Republican leaders charge that current party Chairman Jim Greer and, by default, Gov. Charlie Crist are out of sync with what grass-roots Republicans want.

“It would be hard to imagine us being any more impotent than we appear to be right at this point,” said former state Republican Chairman Tom Slade, who headed the party from 1993 to 1999. That was a period when the GOP took over the state House and Senate and sent Jeb Bush to the governor’s mansion.

Greer flexed his political muscles this year when he tried to use a parliamentary procedure to hamper former state House Speaker Marco Rubio’s candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez. Crist had jumped into the Senate race in May, garnering Greer’s support immediately.

That transformed what had been a whisper campaign against Greer into public criticism from county leaders and others throughout the state, who said the chairman had gone too far.

Rubio later characterized the Senate GOP primary as a battle for the “heart and soul” of the Republican Party in Florida.

But Greer, hand-picked by Crist, says the party is doing just fine and blames reports of its demise on a few disgruntled but vocal outliers.

“I don’t think that the party has anywhere near the problems that some are promoting in the state. In fact, I think this party in Florida is very strong and I see it each and every day,” Greer said in a telephone interview.


GOP activist’s motion to censure Crist slated for August vote

Monday, July 20th, 2009 by George Bennett

A Republican activist’s effort to get the Palm Beach County Republican Party to censure Gov. Charlie Crist for a variety of partisan sins is coming back up in August despite the county GOP chairman’s wish that the matter would go away.

County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein opposes Republican Executive Committee member Steven Ledewitz’s censure measure, but says “I don’t know if I can prevail on that” when 100 or so Republican Executive Committee members vote on it Aug. 12.

Ledewitz drew applause, but was ruled out of order by Dinerstein, when he raised the censure motion at a February GOP meeting. At the time, many Republicans were boiling at the Republican governor for appearing a few days earlier with Democratic President Obama at a Fort Myers pep rally for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill.

Ledewitz brought up the Crist censure again at the April GOP meeting, but the committee voted 66-24 to table the matter until August. Now the August meeting is approaching, and Ledewitz isn’t backing off. In fact, he says there’s a new reason the local GOP should condemn Crist: the governor’s appointment this month of Democrat Priscilla Taylor to fill a vacancy on the county commission.


County GOP boss not pumped about Crist’s Senate bid

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 by George Bennett

Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein might be the only person in Florida surprised by Gov. Charlie Crist’s announcement today that he’s running for U.S. Senate.

Dinerstein last week flatly predicted that Crist would not run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez.

Dinerstein today said he wishes Crist had decided to seek reelection as governor.


County GOP boss predicts Crist won’t run for Senate

Friday, May 8th, 2009 by George Bennett

Much of political Florida expects Gov. Charlie Crist to announce soon that he’s running for U.S. Senate.

Not Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein.


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