Based on the rules adopted by the Florida House GOP caucus, released in November of last year, Jamie Grant, Paul Renner (and others – more on that later) have shot themselves in the foot. According to news reports that include quotes from several Republican members (read: witnesses), the two leading 2022 House Speaker candidates have engaged in activities that are expressly prohibited. Rule 5.2(a)(2) reads:
“A candidate for the office of Republican Leader designate may not have directly or indirectly solicited or accepted a formal or informal pledge of support prior to June 30 of the year following the general election in which the final members of their legislative class were elected.”
Based on statements and text messages that are in wide circulation around Tallahassee today, Grant has actively engaged in a campaign that involved at least nine other freshmen members, including Alex Miller, who inadvertently supplied the Renner camp with a wayward text message and direct evidence against Grant’s eligibility.
Renner, like a moth to the proverbial flame, called a meeting to address Grant’s prohibited campaign activity with other members of the freshman class. According to several sources, including some present at the meeting, Renner also actively solicited support:
…by feverishly making the case for his bid at the caucus meeting…
Whether or not there is any veracity to the unsourced quotes that appeared in Florida Politics (linked above) regarding Renner’s behavior at the hastily called meeting, there is plenty of other evidence swirling around Tallahassee proving Renner’s own complicity in a similar campaign, including proof of at least one secret dinner at a NASCAR event in which Renner is said to have actively solicited support from other members of his class.
Sources inside and outside the Republican freshman caucus confirm that the sudden, public flurry of activity from Grant and Renner are only the most visible components of a vigorous battle being waged by those anxious to sew up the race before campaigning can officially begin.
But the consequences of violating the rules are clear. According to 5.2(a)(4):
“A violation of subparagraph (a) will render a candidate ineligible to stand for election before the House Republican Conference as either the Republican Leader designate or the Republican Leader.”
Undoubtedly there is ample evidence to prove both Grant and Renner are in direct violation of the rules adopted by their peers. The question now is, will Richard Corcoran hold the rulebreakers accountable?