GOP boss to grass-roots Republicans: ‘Don’t get in the race’

Grassroots Republican candidates who want to run in the primary for Florida’s Congressional District 18 say they are being told to stay out of the race by the new chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County.

Calvin Turnquest, a former village councilman and vice-mayor of Tequesta, sent out this tweet on Thursday:

Calvin Turnquest tweet


Calvin Turnquest

Calvin Turnquest

Democrat Patrick Murphy won the seat in 2012, beating Lt. Col Allen West in a close race — in a district that should have favored the Republican. Now, the GOP wants payback in 2014, and numerous candidates have either announced their intentions to run or are planning to shortly.

Turnquest is extremely popular among grass-roots conservatives, and when he spoke to Ira Sabin about his plans to run, he said the new GOP leader told him, “There will be a candidate in the race with better name recognition and the ability to self-fund. Don’t get in the race.”

Contacted Sunday, Sabin denied telling Turnquest not to enter the contest and characterized his statements to him as nothing more than “advice.”

“The NRCC told me it’s going to take $3 million to $4 million to win this race, and I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into,” Sabin told me.

When asked to identify the bigger-name candidates, Sabin said, “Carl Domino can self-fund, and Adam Hasner is making noises.”

Beverly Hires

Beverly Hires

Beverly Hires, a Republican attorney from Jupiter who served as an Election Day lawyer for the Romney campaign and was a tireless watchdog during the Allen West recount, said Sabin gave her the cold shoulder, too.

Hires said she contacted Sabin to tell him she was considering a run, and he referred her to Keith Sonderling, who heads up candidate recruitment for the local GOP party. That’s when this exchange ensued in a private Facebook message:

Beverly Hires Facebook conversation


When I contacted Hires, she emailed me this statement:

“I reached out to Ira Sabin, Palm Beach Republican Party’s controversial new chairman, to tell him I was running for Congress. I was very disappointed to learn he was engaging in unfair tactics aimed at preventing grassroots candidates. I am not deterred.  I am calling for an end of attempts to game the election.”

At first, when asked about any conversations he had had with Hires, Sabin denied talking to her about the race. When I reminded him of the above conversation, Sabin said he thought Hires should set her sights lower because of the fundraising requirements.

Ira Sabin

Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Ira Sabin

“I would never tell any Republican not to run for anything,” he said, adding that any feedback he shared with Hires was, as with his conversations with Turnquest, “only advice.”

Another prospective candidate in the Republican primary for Murphy’s seat is Alan Schlesinger, a new Florida resident and former state legislator from Connecticut who lost a 2006 race against former Democrat and now-independent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman.

When asked about his meeting with Sabin, Schlesinger responded like a good Republican soldier, saying: “We had a meeting. I can’t say I understand where he’s coming from, but it was a private meeting, and I can’t talk about it.”

But Sabin had much more to say about the meeting than Schlesinger did.

“I told him I didn’t think he should run because he’s open to the carpetbagger issue. He still pays a property tax bill in Connecticut,” Sabin said. “The conversation with Schlesinger ended up being a typical adversarial conversation with an attorney. We had a 360-degree conversation that ended where it started. He doesn’t know anything about Martin or St. Lucie counties, but he said that didn’t matter.”

“I had two witnesses in the room when I met with Schlesinger,” Sabin added. “The Republican Party didn’t even back him against Lieberman.”

Alan Schlesinger

Alan Schlesinger

When told of Sabin’s remarks, Schlesinger said, “I’ve gotten a tremendous and positive response from every member of the Palm Beach County REC I’ve spoken to about my candidacy. I wish Ira the best in his effort to run the local party. Ira is entitled to his opinion.”

It should be noted that Schlesinger did win a number of races when he was in Connecticut, and he’s not a political novice.

Besides the slew of grass-roots Republicans wanting to enter the District 18 race, Sabin has a few other problems he has to deal with. Fundraising has been slow, and the party recently “rescheduled” its annual golf tournament, an important spring money maker.

Then there’s this: Sabin’s party has yet to ratify its constitution because attendance at Republican Executive Committee meetings has been so poor that a quorum couldn’t be reached. Sabin had to send an email out earlier this month demanding members attend the June meeting.

Dear REC Member:

The vote on the constitution was postponed due to lack of attendance at the February & April rec meetings.  Rec members have a responsibility and are required to attend rec meetings.  At the April rec meeting, there were only about half of the total membership in attendance at the meeting.  When rec members do not attend rec meetings, the committee cannot conduct business.  We ask that all rec members take seriously their responsibility to attend meetings.  If the June meeting does not have 2/3rds of the entire committee in attendance, the meeting will be adjourned immediately.

I’ve written about Sabin’s missteps before in, GOP backstabber “Al Zucaro” joins board of Republican club, and “GOP boss: Don’t talk about Allen West voter fraud or other ‘oddball issues.’ ”

Sabin needs to figure out how to be an effective chairman fast, or 2014 is going to be an awfully long year for Republicans in Palm Beach County.

Jack Furnari

President at BizPac Review
Jack Furnari is a founding partner, writer and CEO of BizPac Review.


  • you know my name Ira

    I was told not to run by Ira Sabin and that they have someone else in mind, I'd like to know who?

    • Tyranny continues

      Who? good question. I guess this guy picks the winner. He should just go ahead and tell people who they ought to vote for.

      • Chad Lincoln

        The County Chairman's job includes identifying candidates for office. When people come to him for advise, and he gives it, they ought to have the good sense to listen and think. All I'm hearing about in this article is the moans of people complaining, because Ira could not tell them in honesty what they wanted to hear.

        If you don't have name and money and a huge existing following, you need to do your home work before you come to run for US Congress.

        If Republican's want to win races to be able to govern, they need to get to work. Why aren't these people seeking County and City posts, making a name and a following and building financial base. I KNOW there are a lot of local opportunities that might bring more party support. I see Ira as being in the right.

        • Turnquest

          This is why I miss Sid. Sid gave advice, Sid did not slam you in the face with a sledge hammer. Sid had the common courtesy to meet with potential candidates and, if they didn't know, explain the process and what to expect. Even if he was not, he appeared to be impartial and gave the impression of being genuine. That's called leadership, something Ira is terribly lacking. Ask a former candidate how name, money and following helped win a race last year.

        • Mark Matis

          Then maybe you and your Rove Republican buddies oughta kwitcher bitchin when Mere Citizens tell you to stuff your Mittens up your butt.

    • Larry Germain

      I think they are talking about Domino who must be a member of the Sugar Family of that name.

      • Factcheck

        Larry, Carl Domino is a financial millionaire, having nothing to do with Sugar. He is also a 4 term state representative from the same area as CD-18.

  • Tyranny continues

    This guy just keeps on embarrassing his party. Is it mentor time? It's at the very least time for some people to speak up about what is going on and what he says. Rude and angry is not the new message. It wasn't even the old message.

    • Mark Matis

      A Rove Republican. Just like the Shrubs, and Rubio, and McShame, and Mittens, and Graham, and Orange Man before he became a Donkey. After all, Jeb! hand-picked Orange Man to replace him as governor of Florida…

  • William Wallace

    The voters should decide who represents us!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who does this guy think he is!!????

  • Chad Lincoln

    In general, I agree with Ira's advice about entering a Congressional Race with empty pockets. Any Congressional race in these times takes a mountain of cash, and Republican challengers have not been able to raise the money needed from the grass roots here in South Florida. The truth is the Republican money here is not enough, no matter how much they like a candidate, their money just doesn't come out. Many candidates want to run a challenger race, few have had the ability to get money necessary to do so, with the exception of His Honor Allan West. Any one wanting to make a viable race of it needs to write a $2.0 million dollar check to their account the moment they files, otherwise they are being a fool. The grass roots support here in South Florida can spy the Vanity Candidates a mile away.

    • Turnquest

      Chad, that's an elitist statement "Anyone wanting to make a viable race of it needs to write a $2.0 Million dollar check to their account the moment they files….." If that's your sentiment, then elected officials won't come from "We the People" because 95% of Americans can't do that.

      • Factcheck

        I think he is referring to having a campaign bankroll working already. That being said, I don't agree that you have to have that money on the outset, but you do have to have the ability to raise $3 to $4 million because that's what it will take to beat Patrick. He will write his own $4 million without even thinking of it.

        • Danita Kilcullen

          Murphy's $4 million trumped West's $22 million — by hook or by crook… Thanks for reporting, Jack… The People need the whole story.

          • Libertylady

            $4M with a huge big helping of vote fraud.

  • Chuck

    Get real Jack. The only potential CD18 challengers with the gravitas and fund raising potential to defeate Murphy are Joe Negron and Pat Murphy. If either of those 2 don't make the race then we'll need the strongest possible dark horse to emerge from the GOP primary. Multiple fringe candidates with no successful track records as vote getters or at heavy-duty fund raising can only skew the race to produce a lackluster nominee.

    • Jack Furnari

      I just reported the facts. I always find it amusing when someone tells me to "get real" or some other nonsensical comment, as if I expressed my own opinion in the piece, when I did not.

      • Chuck

        Point well taken Jack.

        • Jack Furnari

          No harm done. When I do express an opinion on something, and you disagree, feel free to have at me. I'm fine with it. I actually enjoy that.

          • Chuck

            Actually I agree with the essence of your article. If a candidate can demonstrate grass roots support, normally by making the ballot with signatures and raising some money, then they deserve to be taken seriously.

  • Big Dem

    I am so sick of political party elites telling me I don't know what is good for me, and to just fall in line and do what I'm told.

    This attitude is one of the reasons why I am not a registered Republican.

    • Libertylady

      Same here, 47 years as a Pubbie, elected to the California Republican Central Committee, so disgusted with this party I will be resigning and going independent.

  • IraLeaves BitterTast

    Ira Sabin is a detriment to the Republican Party. Pure and simple.In my opinion, Ira only cares about Ira's power and position in the party. Unless Ira thinks of it first, his opinion is of that its a "TOTAL NON-STARTER" for anyone else. Ira, fame and fortune didnt win the election this past cycle,big names didnt get us anywhere. Having dinner with Jeb Bush doesn't win elections.What won the election in part, was "THE GRASS ROOT" "COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS" on the ground and the use of ALL social media. We lost this election partly because of the close minded thought process you still use.

    In my opinion, Ira Sabin should step down, he is a divider. We already have a Divider in Chief in the WhiteHouse. It's destroying us.

  • Eric

    Although this is on a State level, it is just the same at the Federal level,…. the GOP not needs to BUT MUST GET RID OF THESE OLD DYNASAUR RINO's. Time for Conservatives, Time for the Tea Party. Time for some people with some Testicular Fortitude!

  • Linda

    The sad thing is that anyone has to raise 3 or 4 million to run for an office. I am pretty sure they also get that much or more back when they win but seems like this leaves corruption the open door to future political agendas. Our system is so filled with thugs, criminals and PC types is why nothing works for them anymore. Cowards and whores for the money and power that comes to those approved to win.

  • Tyrone

    There are more then enough people in any particular district in which a grass root candidate can raise money to fund his campaign without having to rely on the GOP establishment for support.

    • Chad Lincoln

      Can you back this statement with the facts on which you base it. I mean this would be great news, but let's be honest. This has never happened yet. Congressman West raised a pile of cash, but it was largely from outside the District. As for Grass Rots tea party financials support. Its a dream, there is very little financial support for candidates coming out of the Tea Party Groups down here.

      • Roosevelt Moore

        Wow!! And yet, you people on here who call yourselves Republicans wonder why we keep losing races! Can one of you name the last time you heard the demo rats fighting each other about money? You expect to win races by doing the exact same thing that has constantly lost races?? How many of you have more money than Mitt Romney? I don't hear Mr. President in front of his name, do you?? Where did obama get his name recognition before he ran for the Illinois Senate? Where did he get lots of money? I think it's time for ALL of these people of power who have been in the Republican party for decades to RESIGN. They have proven that they don't know what it takes to win but, according to most of you, we are supposed to keep doing it! Republicans can't win races because it seems there is a "crab in a bottle" attitude within the party. (If you put one crab in a bottle, it will climb out and survive. If you put two crabs in the same bottle, they both die because each of them prevents the other from crawling out). Until we overcome that attitude, we may as well continue to grab our ankles and bend over.

        • http://n/a patriotgop

          Roosevelt is soooo Wrong !!

          • Roosevelt Moore

            patriot, tell me where I am wrong. The establishment has picked the last two candidates. Which one of them is president?? I could have ran for president with my annual salary of about $40,000 and came up with at least the same result!! It's not about how much money you waste campaigning, it's about REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE! If the PEOPLE choose you as their candidate, you get their votes. If the ESTABLISHMENT chooses you, you get their votes. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that there are more peoples' votes than establishment votes. Romney and McCain got the establishment vote, Obama got the peoples' vote. Tell me again how the establishment knows how to win elections.

        • Turnquest

          Roosevelt is soooo right!!

      • Libertylady

        Not as much money as boots on the ground. And NOT the DNC/Soros-funded boots, like the Dims. REAL boots on the ground. REAL phone-banking.REAL people giving up family vacations so that they can contribute to theri chosen candidates.

        I.e., REAL American citizens. I guess that just doesn't count.

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