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Florida Republican group strives to be “conservative alternative” to League of Women Voters

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The president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women said that the League of Women Voters, whose proposed congressional and state Senate redistricting maps were adopted by the courts after it and other groups sued, is liberal in its policies and its membership is largely from Democrats.

Dena DeCamp of Lakeland said the Florida Federation intends to become a “conservative alternative” to the league and begin to push a conservative agenda and counter the league’s issues.

“We are going to become more aggressive. Instead of reacting and supporting legislation already filed, I want us to form our own policies and push our own legislation with the House and Senate,” she said.

Her remarks came just days before the Florida Federation of Republican Women, which is meeting this weekend at the Hilton Altamonte Springs.

DeCamp known for her organizational skills and activism helped local Republican groups become active, including helping the fledgling Tea Party groups in Central Florida become organized and create several local rallies.

She was elected president of the largest Republican women’s organization in the state and has taken to organizing that group as well, particularly her desire to treat the League of Women voters as a political entity full of liberals and Democrats

Former state senator and political columnist Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican, is a member of the Florida League of Women Voters Board. She has been highly critical of Gov. Rick Scott, who leads her party, but said the league is not a partisan group.

“The League protects democracy and the voting process,” Dockery said, “and it is open to everyone. Unfortunately, people who gravitate to the League tend to be mostly Democrats and independents, but there are Republican members and have been other Republican board members. We have men members as well.”

Dockery said the league backed the Fair Districts Amendment which passed by a margin of the state’s voters and had many Republicans voting for it.

“Amendment 1, the environmental protection amendment, passed with 75 percent of the vote so you have to assume quite a lot of Republicans voted for that as well,” she said.

Both women represent opposite ends of the Republican Party.

The Federation does have an agenda this year, which DeCamp said, much of which is aimed at aiding women and the underprivileged.

“We know they (the League of Women Voters) are not bipartisan, and we intend to have lobbyists in Tallahassee, too.” she said.

“The bills we support and create are common sense such as fiscal responsibility, tax cut bills and Kid Care for legal immigrants’ children,” DeCamp said. “We must provide care to legal immigrants’ children not just illegals’ kids.”

Don’t assume the federation is some sort of women’s auxiliary of the Republican Party. The group is active and aggressive in its politics and DeCamp said she intends it to become even more of a force in the coming months.

“We don’t sit in the back room licking stamps,” she said.

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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