The state GOP may have emerged stronger from the embarrassing arrest of former Chairman Jim Greer.
Greer stepped down in February and was charged with six counts of organized scheme to defraud, four counts of felony grand theft and one count of money laundering. It was a painful chapter for local Republicans but ultimately did not prevent the GOP from dominating the 2010 midterms. They credit the growth and autonomy of their state House and Senate committees in helping to generate major gains.
Sen.-elect Marco Rubio pounded Greer ally Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in the Sunshine Stateís high-profile Senate contest. And Republicans now have veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate, in addition to controlling the governorís office and virtually every other statewide office.
Such is the paradox of Florida, where even though Democrats hold a 5-point voter registration advantage, voters only narrowly supported Obama in 2008 and overwhelmingly voted for Republicans in the 2010 midterms.
Their 2010 performance gives the GOP sound control over the stateís redistricting process, expected to give Florida two new House seats. But two ballot measures passed in November limit the GOPís ability to help incumbents and are expected to lead to a long and messy redistricting fight that will include several court challenges.
Both the Republican and Democratic parties are expected to select new chairmen in the coming year. And all eyes will be on Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, one of the only Democrats to hold a major elected office in Florida. And Florida will play host to the Republican National Convention.
The Granite State GOP has been consistently outspent and out-staffed by its Democratic counterpart. It has also been forced to confront the growing belief that the traditional swing state has turned blue.
GOP Chairman John Sununu has something to say about that, telling Roll Call on Monday just before announcing he would not run for a second term as the leader of the state party, ďThe legend that New Hampshire had gone Democratic permanently was obviously not true.Ē
Indeed, under Sununuís leadership, Republicans dominated the midterm elections, flipping the tiny stateís two House seats and maintaining control of the Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Judd Gregg. They also won veto-proof control of the state Legislature, a shift that may render Democratic Gov. John Lynch largely ineffective over the coming two years.
While there is no doubt that Republicans improved their bench and have momentum, Sununuís departure leaves a huge void for New Hampshire Republicans. He is a former governor and White House chief of staff, a sharp political mind who understands the big and little pictures in a state that will play a leading role in the 2012 presidential contest.
Sununu will be replaced Jan. 22. Local reports suggest that heís privately supporting Cheshire County GOP Chairwoman Juliana Bergeron, who is on a short list of potential replacements and announced her bid Tuesday. The Republicans have paid off their debt, have engaged the local business community in their cause and have rejuvenated political action committees, Sununu said.
The state Democratic Party, however, enjoys a cash advantage going forward and has traditionally enjoyed a massive staffing advantage.