With a four candidate field for the chairmanship of the Broward Republican Party, the voters who will make the decision about the party’s leader for the next two years will get two chances to examine the contenders this week.
Candidate forums are set for Republican strongholds of Coral Springs and Davie.
So far, four candidates are seeking the post that opened when Rico Petrocelli, who was elected chairman in December, resigned, citing internal party divisions.
The hopefuls are Christine Butler, the current vice chairwoman of the party; James Gleason, who has unsuccessfully run for mayor of Coral Springs and state representative; Bob Sutton, unsuccessful candidate for County Commission; and Tom Truex, a former mayor of Davie.
One of the candidates for the top job, Butler, raised eyebrows over the weekend with a complex set of rules (a print out contains four pages of rules) that she developed for the two events.
The most interesting part of Butler’s rules, which has already drawn skeptical commentary from the websites Broward Beat and Red Broward (which clearly doesn't like Butler) is the proposed restrictions on media coverage of the event.
Among Butler's rules, which media organizations would never agree to:
If any recordings or photography is allowed, those making recordings must agree to supply all Candidates a complete copy of every such recording delivered to them within 24 hours of the end of the event. Such materials shall be provided to the Candidates without cost and free of copyright restrictions.
These rules shall apply to the Press and bloggers as well. No photographs or recordings will be edited, outcropped or digitally altered or taken out of context, and subsequently published in any media outlet, for the purpose or use of denigrating or displaying a Candidate in a mocking or derisive manner. If the Press, bloggers and photographers do not agree to abide by these rules, they will be denied recording privileges.
Karin Hoffman, founder of the group DC Works for Us and organizer of the Wednesday forum in Coral Springs, said the rules won’t apply there.
Hoffman has organized many political events at a favorite Republican spot – Wings Plus in Coral Springs.
“It’s not the position of the candidates to submit rules for our forum. It’s up to the organizing committee…. Never in the history have we had a candidate submit requirements,” she said.
Hoffman said she wouldn’t attempt to restrict what can be reported and how it can be reported.
Among Butler’s ground rules are that questions must be submitted in advance in writing, they must all come from Republicans and questioners will have to supply their names. Also, the moderator will not be able to say anything except the exact question as posed but will have four opportunities for follow ups.
She also set a 90-minute time limit. One of the forums is set to last two hours.
Jeff Rubinoff, president of the Davie-Cooper city Republican Club, wants a civil gathering. “We don’t want it to be a hard core debate. The goal is to find, based on their words, who is going to be the best to lead the Broward County GOP party moving forward,” he said.
Rubinoff said he’s found some of the Internet bashing of various candidates “very distasteful. Everyone has to get along after this…. Whenever we host any type of debate we’ve always kept it very civil. I don’t want to have anybody attacking each other and will make that clear right up front.”
Hoffman said she isn’t looking for division either. She said there’s lots of unity among the 10 Republican clubs and tea party groups sponsoring the event. They include the Republican Business Network, Florida Federated Republican Women, Southwest Broward Republican Organization, South Broward Republican Club, Pompano Beach Regional Republican Club, Wynmoor Republican Club, DC Works for Us, Young Republicans, Weston Republican Club and Tea Party Fort Lauderdale.
Here are the details about coming events:
Wednesday forum: Wings Plus, 9880 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. Sponsored by 10 Republican and tea party groups. Starts at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday forum: Bamford Sports Complex, 3800 SW 92 Ave., Davie. Sponsored by Davie-Cooper City Republican Club. Check in at 6:30 p.m., meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Monday, March 18, election: Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek, Fort Lauderdale. Check in at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7 p.m.. The people doing the voting are the elected committeemen and committeewomen from each precinct in Broward County.