Tempers flaring as Speaker’s race barrels to conclusion

in Peter by

A group of House Republicans reacted strongly to a FloridaPolitics.com story about the House Speaker’s race, with one calling it “a shameful tool,” according to emails provided to the media organization.

The post in question, wrote state Rep. Mike Grant, “suggested Rep. (Cord) Byrd would be targeted for a primary challenge based on his vote for Speaker.”

First, here’s what the story actually said:

“We understand that there is one holdout: Rep. Cord Byrd, a regional anomaly in his support for Jamie Grant. One assumes the donor class is watching which way Byrd goes on this one. Even though he’s in the deepest of deep red seats, only one man is going to win what looks like a binary Speaker’s race. And for Northeast Florida, there is but one choice.”

In any case, Grant took it as a call to action.

“(W)hile Rep. Byrd knows, as do all of us, that (the) House Majority would willingly spend any amount of money to thwart these types of cowardly political ploys, I wanted to make unequivocally clear to each and every member of our great class, that should any one challenge, or threaten you with a challenge, know that I will spend whatever it takes personally to see you through the Primary,” he wrote.

Rep. Joe Gruters responded, “I hope everyone would be willing to join your efforts in trying to protect all of our classmates both now and after this election for speaker.”

He added that Byrd nor “anyone else is going to get targeted in a primary as a result of the upcoming vote and we will be united as a class moving forward no matter who wins.”

Rep. Paul Renner weighed in: “I agree with Mike that targeting any member of our class is unacceptable. I am certain we will do whatever is needed to support our classmates against any election challenge.”

He said, “Cord and I attended an event together in which we raised over 260K, dedicated resources to make sure that every member of our class returns. Next week our regional delegation is coming together again to raise money for House Campaigns, which will protect all of our incumbent members.”

“I will continue to raise the funds necessary to ensure the re-election of our entire class,” Renner concluded. “Together, I am confident we will have a successful 2018 election cycle.”

Rep. Ralph Massullo next weighed in, saying, “I couldn’t agree with you more and am honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and support our class and whatever member among us who may be the target of any special interest. We may not be family, but we certainly can be the next best thing…together.”

Rep. Bob Rommel finally said, “I agree we don’t need any outside threats that may want to influence the decision of any member. I will pledge to help any Republican who is threatened.

“On a side note,” he added, “someone has been leaking information about our private meetings and our private emails regarding this leadership race. If it is a House member or staff member, please stop.”

The Speaker’s race is barreling toward a vote later this month. Five members of the class —Grant, Renner, Byron Donalds, Randy Fine and Erin Grall — have all announced their candidacy.

A vote will likely take place in the Orlando area on June 30. Those who can attend the vote will be able to vote in person, while those who can’t are expected to be able to cast their vote through some type of direct communication to either Rep. Larry Metz or Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues.

The vote is expected to be conducted through secret ballot, not the traditional pledge card method.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.