GOP bars Paul supporter from serving as committeeman
Stevens kicked out for four years after urging vote for Obama over McCain
Posted: December 11, 2012 - 10:56pm
By Matt Dixon
Record Tallahassee Bureau
Stevens kicked out for four years after endorsing Obama in 2008
TALLAHASSEE — John Stevens won his St. Johns County election to serve as a Republican state committeeman. Now he’s considering suing the state party because, he says, it won’t let him take office.
The reason? It’s because of a four-year-old grudge, he says.
“My opinion is that in order for us to save America, [Barack] Obama has to win,” wrote Stevens, who was a precinct committeeman, in an October 2008 email to an undisclosed recipient.
“If McCain wins, then those who consider themselves to be ‘conservatives’ will be lulled back to sleep,” he added.
That public opposition was at odds with party rules that all elected members agree to follow. As a result, party boss Jim Greer slapped Stevens with a four year suspension.
Greer has since been booted from the state GOP and is facing felony fraud charges related to funneling party money to a fundraising firm he started.
In August, Stevens won a three-way race for St. Johns County Republican state committeeman, but was told by party officials he does “not meet the qualifications” to be seated because of his suspension, which has another eight months to run.
The second-place finisher in the Republican state committeeman race, Randy Covington, had also been suspended for breaking party rules. Consequently, that post went to the third-place finisher, Bob Veit, a former Marine and long-time member of the Republican Executive Committee.
Stevens believes the decision against him is RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry’s attempt to purge the party of dissenting voices.
“In my mind, it comes down to the party wanting to control the message and who can be in the party,” Stevens said.
He said he believed there was “no way they would cite a Greer ruling to overrule the voters.”
But party officials ruled that Stevens broke the rules and must finish out his suspension.
“We are a private organization, and we have rules that need to be followed,” said Leslie Dougher, who heads the Clay County Republican Party.
She is also the member of RPOF’s grievance committee, which on Saturday rejected Stevens’ appeal of the decision. Curry has no authority to overturn the ruling.
Sean Mulhall, a Ponte Vedra Beach attorney who on Thursday was elected chairman of the St. Johns County Republican Party, called Stevens a “good Republican,” but agreed with the party’s decision.
“I really like John and hope he joins us again when his suspension is over,” Mullhall said.
Stevens attended — but could not vote — at the meeting when Mulhall was elected chairman.
Stevens is a staunch backer of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who is a former presidential nominee with an outspoken cadre of libertarian supporters.
“There are some in the party who don’t want us to participate,” he said.
Party spokesman Brian Burgess said that Curry is not trying to purge Paul supporters, or anyone else.
“There is a movement in the party to include a lot of different views … that’s why we have primary process,” Burgess said. “A key rule is that once that’s over, we unite behind the party’s nominees.”
Stevens said he is talking to an attorney and will decide if he is filing a lawsuit by the end of the week.