The Florida GOP—In A Sunshine State

July 23, 2009Raynard JacksonAny political analyst will admit that the Republican Party is in a serious downward spiral, but the Florida GOP and its governor, Charlie Crist, give me some hope for the future.Jim Greer, the head of the Florida GOP, is the best party chairman in the country (Democrat or Republican) and their governor, Charlie Crist is by far the best governor in the country (bar none).Greer will be my featured guest on my radio show this Saturday to discuss what he and Governor Crist are doing in the state of Florida and whether he believes this can be done on a national scale.Greer has made the issue of diversity—getting more minorities involved in the Republican Party—his priority and it is paying big dividends.Greer recently appointed John F. Davis Deputy Executive Director of Operations. In addition to his role as Director of Minority Outreach and Coalitions, as Deputy Executive Director, Davis will oversee the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Operations, aiding Chairman Greer and Executive Director Delmar Johnson with the long and short term management of the organization.Greer has begun to have regular dialogue with Black newspaper owners, including discussions of buying advertising in their papers.He has established an African American Leadership Council to build relations with the Black community. He has done similar things in the Hispanic communityIn past columns I have been very critical of the Republican Party for their race baiting. But, Governor Crist has been the opposite in every way. In every office held, he has made a commitment to represent everyone, not just those who voted for him. I am fond of saying that “Republican’s actions speak so loud that I can’t hear a damn thing they are saying.” Well, Governor Crist is just the opposite. His actions speak so loud I can (and want to) hear everything he is saying.As governor he has already worked with his cabinet to restore felons' voting rights after they complete their sentences, bringing Florida in line with most other states. The change has a disproportionate effect on blacks, who make up nearly half of new inmates. Pushed through a law that requires a paper trail for all ballots cast, helping allay fears that votes in black communities were being undercounted by computerized voting machines.As if that wasn’t enough, he recently appointed a Black Justice to the Florida Supreme Court. Governor Crist elevated Judge James E.C. Perry from Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit to the state Supreme Court a few months ago.Governor Crist also appointed former Baltimore Raven linebacker, Peter Boulware to the State Board of Education.Crist has been honored twice by the NAACP of Florida as the recipient of the Dr. Marvin Davies Civil Rights Award for his dedication to ensuring civil rights and accessible, affordable higher education to all Floridians (he is the first Republican governor to attend their annual dinner). As Attorney General, Crist co-sponsored the annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community for three years, drawing over 6,000 participants from more than 25 states.Here you have a state party chair and a governor who are putting their money where their mouths are. They have created an open dialogue with the Black community, even when they disagree on certain issues. They have placed Blacks throughout their administrations, in decision making positions. They have renounced the “Southern Strategy,” in word and in deed.Chairman Greer and Governor Crist have created the model for the national party to follow. These two are the only political team who have actually brought their states together without creating animosity from one group to another (Black vs. White or Black vs. Hispanic).I find it ironic that these two white guys have done something that Republican presidents haven’t done nor the so called Black Republican leaders. Most Black Republican elected officials rarely put Blacks in key positions and when they do they are typically not right for the positions they are placed in.Why is it that the House and Senate campaign committees and the Republican Governor’s Association have no Blacks on their staffs? Why is it that there are no more than 100 Black staffers between House and Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill?Why is it that Republicans tend to promote and showcase Blacks who come across very effeminate or are so far out of touch with their own community that they are ignored. I know John Davis (deputy executive director of the state party) and he can speak the “king’s English,” but can also walk into the Black community with credibility and respect. But, most importantly, they know he has a direct line to the chairman and the governor.Florida is called “The Sunshine State” and is known for their oranges. But, Greer and Crist have given Blacks around them the “juice” to make things happen and have made this point very plain in the most public of settings.The Florida GOP and its governor, Charlie Crist, have demonstrated that the Black vote can be won, but are national leaders willing to follow the Greer/Crist principle? They are the reason Florida is “In a Sunshine State” for Republican politics.Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-based political consulting/government affairs firm. You can listen to his radio show every Saturday evening from 7-9:00 p.m. Go to to register and then click on host, and then click on his photo to join his group.
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