After more than two hours of debating and voting, Broward Republicans picked Tom Truex as their new chairman Monday night.
"The fate of the Republican Party is not a trivial matter," Truex said. "Countywide, you all know that we're vastly overwhelmed, outnumbered and losing ground. [The party] is out of money and we're bickering."
He promised Republicans that would change under his leadership.
Truex comes from the socially conservative wing of the party. He didn't directly address social issues in his speeches Monday night before Republicans who gathered to pick a new chairman, though he did describe himself as a Sunday school teacher and a member of the National Rifle Association.
A resident of Broward for more than 40 years, Truex, 55, is a lawyer and served as Davie mayor from 2003 to 2009 after two years as a member of the Davie Town Council,
He said he has credibility as someone who's won elections, and said he knows how to sell the Republican message in the media.
He also vowed more openness and transparency in the way the county party operates. He said the way to improve the public impression of the Broward Republican Party "isn't to hide the silly things that we do," but instead not to do silly things.
Truex won 111 votes on the evening's second ballot. Christine Butler, the party's vice chairwoman, had 75 votes for the top job.
Truex takes over a party that has had internal fissures in recent years and needs to rebuild to prepare for 2014.
"It's important that we as a party move forward, unify, not to fight among ourselves but to make sure we elect Republicans," said former chairman Kevin Tynan, who delivered the nominating speech for Truex.
The different bases of the Republican Party were on display before the election began.
In the opening prayer, Jerry Fadgen asked for help in finding a leader who helps Republicans win elections “while leading the charge in protecting our culture and freedoms.” He was followed by Andy Eddy, who’s who’s active in the gay group Broward Log Cabin Republicans, leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
The evening began with five candidates. The first round of balloting eliminated James Gleason, who has unsuccessfully run for mayor of Coral Springs and state representative; Bob Sutton, who has unsuccessfully run for county commission; and Levi Williams, a lawyer and former general counsel to the county Republican Party.
The new chairman was picked by committeemen and committeewomen from throughout the county who were elected in the August 2012 Republican primary.
Monday night's election was necessitated by the resignation of the previous county Republican chairman, former Plantation Councilman Rico Petrocelli. Citing "irreconcilable differences" with the county Republican Party's board, Petrocelli quit on Feb. 19 — less than four months after he was elected.
Go inside the Republican Party's election at SunSentinel.com/BrowardPolitics.
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