Pinellas Republicans: Work Hard, Think Deep, and Plan Long
(March 14, 2011) If one wants to see and feel just how much grassroots energy and strength is being generated by the Republican Party these days, one of the best places to go is to a monthly meeting of one of their county executive committees.
The county executive committee is the lowest level of formal organization in the Republican Party, and it is at this level that the future stars of that party are born and nurtured. One such committee worth watching is the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee (PCREC), which has emerged as a political powerhouse in what traditionally has been one of the biggest swing districts in the State of Florida. Led by its chairman, Jay J. Beyrouti, the unofficial motto of the committee seems to be “Work Hard, Think Deep, Plan Long.”
According to information provided by the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, in the 2008 elections, before Beyrouti became chairman, Democrat Presidential nominee Barack Obama won Pinellas County with 248,138 votes to Republican Presidential nominee John McCain’s 209,978 votes. At that time, there were 604,912 registered voters in Pinellas County, including 231,511 registered Democrats, 221,120 registered Republicans, and 152,281 Independents or Others. As of March 14, 2011, the figures stand at 230,543 registered Democrats, 221,055 registered Republicans, and 154,761 Independents or Others, for a total of 606,359 registered voters. What these figures do not show, however, is that the mood of the voters is increasingly conservative and pro-Republican as compared to 2008, and the local Republican Party has never been stronger in terms of membership, organization, financial resources, and technological capabilities.
On Monday night in a ballroom at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater Hotel, about 150 enthusiastic Republican activists turned out for a regular monthly meeting at a time when the next big election is still 18 months away. One conspicuous difference between now and before the 2008 elections is that the PCREC membership is much larger, its members include many ordinary people who are new to participating in organized politics, the Tea Party movement is well-represented, and everybody is working toward the common goal of Republican victory in 2012.
Part business meeting, part pep rally, and part town hall meeting, the event featured the usual business reports and the following summary comments by Beyrouti:
Beyrouti was followed by Ken Burke, Clerk of Courts for Pinellas County, who provided scarce copies of, and briefly talked about, Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter‘s pamphlet, “We the People: Wide Awake For Our Newest Birth of Freedom.” An excellent summary of Republican principles and beliefs, the pamphlet first appeared in 2009 as a product or the Republican House Policy Committee for the 2010 elections and was downloadable in PDF format.
Republicans: Wide Awake
They were “Wide Awakes” – Americans marching through sleepy hamlets for candidate Abraham Lincoln and the cause of human freedom. They were “Republicans!”
Today, Republicans continue to embrace our enduring duty to:
1. Expand human liberty and self-government;
2. Conserve our cherished way of life and its foundations of faith, family, community and country;
3. Empower Americans to achieve constructive, necessary change; and
4. Defend America’s national security
And we act upon five permanent principles:
1. Our liberty is from God not the government;
2. Our sovereignty is in our souls not the soil;
3. Our security is from strength not surrender;
4. Our prosperity is from the private sector not the public sector; and
5. Our truths are self-evident not relative.
Unfortunately, it has since become unavailable on the internet and has not been replaced by a newer version for use in the 2012 elections.
After Burke spoke, Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov addressed the members for about 20 minutes about real estate market and how Pinellas County has fared better than other counties in the Tampa Bay area. She also talked about the impact of the economic downturn on property values and the need for government in general to cut back. Dubov also talked about government employee retirement benefits and the proposal before the state legislature to have public employees contribute to their own retirement plans, and her belief that people who make higher salaries should pay a higher percentage toward their retirement. She also talked about the need for all levels of government to work together for greater government efficiency, and how her office has been working with the Clerk’s office to identify homestead fraud and has saved the taxpayers over $100,000 since this initiative was begun several months ago.
A final observation is that the PCREC membership that came together at this meeting seemed confident in their ability to turn Pinellas County from a swing county to a Republican county in 2012, and eager to decisively beat Organizing for America and the local Democrats in the process. Time will tell, but the Pinellas Republicans are plainly getting ready for the coming fight.