- Category: Region 3 - North East Florida - News
- Published on 30 June 2008
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New conservative caucus challenges party's stance
By PETER GUINTA
Publication Date: 06/29/08
Bob Veit, chairman of the county's Republican Executive Committee, said last week that The Republican Liberty Caucus, a national organization of libertarian-minded Republicans, has formed a new St. John County chapter that seems to be seeking control of the committee.
Veit said the Caucus wasn't doing anything illegal, but it wants to put supporters into vacant precinct leader positions and thereby influence the composition of the Executive Committee to press its agenda.
"(The Caucus is) attempting a hostile takeover," Veit said. "It's a threat. What happens to all the centrist and less-conservative Republicans who don't agree with them?"
He called Caucus members "ultra-conservatives."
William G. Pitts of St. Johns, a successful builder and a founder of the local Caucus chapter, disagrees with Veit.
Pitts said his members aren't planning a takeover or coup. They are applying for the vacant precinct slots because the Executive Committee was "effectively blocking" them from serving due to their political beliefs. The committee had passed restrictive new rules, changed the requirements of membership and delayed or tabled applications from Caucus members to keep them off, Pitts said.
"We're puzzled why, in a time when the Republican Party faces serious problems, they want to become a party of exclusion," Pitts said. "(The Caucus doesn't) want to exclude people. We represent traditional Republican Party values of low taxes, individual responsibility, states rights and the Constitution. I believe most people in St. Johns County believe in these principles."