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Top GOP donor Al Austin, chair of host committee seeking 2012 RNC convention, raising money for Charlie Crist’s independent campaign

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

It’s no surprise that the estimable Greg Truax, Hillsborough’s state committeeman to the Republican Party of Florida, is sticking with his guy, Charlie Crist, even though Crist has bolted the GOP to run as an independent for the US Senate.  But how can Al Austin, one of the country’s top GOP fundraisers, justify his support of Crist while leading Tampa’s effort to woo the Republican National Convention to the city in 2012?

Last night, I attended a fundraiser for Crist hosted by a slew of wealthy (mostly Indian) doctors in St. Petersburg. Austin did not attend, but he did lend his name to an invitation for the event.

Several Republicans I spoke with about Austin’s decision to support Crist did not want to say anything critical about Austin because of his critical financial role in funding GOP efforts.  It’s almost as if an exception is being made just for Austin despite promises from the national and state Republicans to ostracize any Republican who ends up supporting Crist.

Still, questions have to be asked how Austin can lead the effort to bring the 2012 GOP convention to Tampa, while working against the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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.

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