Monday, May 16, 2011

In support of Chairman Bitner

This weekend was the Republican Party of Florida's Quarterly meeting, and several hundred Republican leaders from Florida's 67 counties gathered in Orlando to discuss plans for Presidency 5, next year's convention, and handle other important party business.

Chairman Bitner and his wife Wendy
Sadly, there was a shadow on the otherwise joyful gathering, as anonymous cowards plotted to attack and undermine our Chairman, David Bitner.

Bitner announced last month that he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that first weakens the muscles, and then attacks the respiratory system, eventually proving fatal. Chairman Bitner has been seen on a zippy little motorized scooter for several months, but is showing no signs of respiratory problems. In fact, I don't see him showing any signs whatsoever of slowing down, as he continues to travel the state in support of the Republican Party. Bitner's spirits remain high and he told the St. Petersburg Times, "My wife and I are strong believers in God and our faith drives us...God has blessed me in being able to do what I'm doing."

If you remember, last January's election for RPOF Chairman was heavily contested, with an unfortunate amount of false attacks and mudslinging. Bitner respectably took the high road and did not target his opponents, keeping his campaign positive, and after several rounds of balloting, support coalesced around him and he won with a commanding lead.

Then, after Bitner's announcement about his ALS, the nasty, slimy atmosphere of the Chairman's race was resurrected. A whisper campaign started, with twitter and blog posts suggesting that there would be a "mutiny" at the RPOF Quarterly, saying that a motion would be made at this weekend's meeting declaring Bitner unfit to serve as Chairman and removing him from his office. As is so often typical of the kind of person who would make this kind of attack, Bitner's foes slithered around in the shadows and granted only anonymous quotes to the media.

The whole thing is beyond ridiculous. ALS is a disease of the body, not the mind. We need our Chairman to contribute his ideas and strategies, to write and to speak, and David Bitner excels at all of these things. I have had the opportunity to speak with Bitner several times at RPOF meetings since last fall, and I have always found him to be iron-willed, strong of spirit, and sharp of mind. None of that has changed one iota since his diagnosis.

I was extremely proud of our party's state leadership for the way the situation was handled this weekend. People stepped up to publicly support Bitner, a motion was made to affirm his position as our Chairman, and the resolution passed unanimously, to a standing ovation. 

It's amazing how people can be so bold when they are anonymous and hiding in the shadows, but not a single person was willing to publicly challenge our Chairman. They were willing to cruelly attack a good man and risk damaging the reputation of the party, but too chicken to put their own reputation on the line.

I spoke with Deborah Cox Roush, who is the Vice Chair of the RPOF Chairmen's Caucus and the Chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. Debbie was the runner-up in the Chairman's election in January and is unequivocal in her support of Bitner. She gave me permission to use this quote:
Chairman Bitner is a leader with integrity and foresight to lead our party into the crucial election of 2012. He has my total support and the support of our state committee.  We are honored to have him as our chairman and to lead our party to victory on November 6, 2012.
Past RPOF Chairman Carole Jean Jordan also expressed to me her support for Bitner and her absolute confidence that he had the capacity to not just handle the job, but excel at it.

Everyone who knows Dave and Wendy Bitner agrees that they are strong and good-hearted people. This is probably the biggest challenge that they have ever had to face, but I have full faith that they will handle it as well as anyone could hope. David Bitner took a pledge to support the Republican Party, and he would never do anything that was not in the best interests of our party.

I hereby issue a challenge to Bitner's attackers: cease your cruelty against this good man who has served our party for many years, and stop undermining the party to which you also have sworn a loyalty oath. Come forward and make your challenges honestly and publicly, or hold your peace, and get the heck out of the way so the rest of us can continue our vital work to make sure that the 2012 elections are another great Republican success.

I ask you to join me in praying for continued stable health for Chairman Bitner, and for strength for him and his wife Wendy. Let's put all this behind us now and move on the important tasks ahead of us.


  1. Great article! Thanks for your support of an outstanding leader. The Bitners have our support and prayers.

    -LeAnn Weiss-Rupard

  2. Thanks for writing this to support our Chairman. Hope that the people who were attacking him don't try it again. I was so upset when I heard that.

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