Flagler County Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly member Anne-Marie Shaffer was elected chairwoman of the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee in a Dec. 17 vote.
The RRR Assembly, a conservative political group that on its website calls itself a “grassroots, bottom-up organization dedicated to restoring traditional values,” has been in a running tug-of-war with other Republicans for control of the Flagler County REC. With Shaffer’s election, Palm Coast City Councilman Bill McGuire said, the RRRs “are in the driver’s seat.”
“They’ve swallowed this organization, and it’s pretty much part of them,” said McGuire, a former RRR Assembly member who has since vocally opposed the group.
Flagler County Commissioner Frank Meeker, an REC member who attended the Dec. 17 meeting, noted that Shaffer has already had an active role in the Flagler County REC. "I don't see that it changes her position that much, because she was a state committee person before," he said.
Shaffer replaces Dave Sullivan, who is not an RRR Assembly member and who decided not to run for re-election to the chairmanship. She ran unopposed.
“We had a very pleasant election, and I think that the committee was energized to go into 2015 and do the work that we focused on doing,” Shaffer said in a Dec. 18 interview with the Palm Coast Observer.
At the same election, Burt Cordwell was elected vice president, Andrew Shirvell was elected secretary, and Joe Kaboski was elected treasurer. Those four seats are up for elections every two years.
Meeker said that with the changes on the board, "The REC will probably head in a new direction." Where, he said, "is up to them — her and her new board."
As chairwoman, Shaffer said, she would like to “put an end to the disorder and chaos that we have been trapped in for a number of years, and restore order so that we can continue the mission given to us by the Florida Republican Party and the REC.”
Shaffer recently ran for the Palm Coast City Council District 2 seat with the RRR Assembly’s backing, but lost the election to Heidi Shipley. Other recent candidates backed by the group include Steven Nobile, who won a race against incumbent Bill Lewis and now represents District 4 on the Palm Coast City Council, and Dennis McDonald and Mark Richter, who both ran for Flagler County Commission seats and lost to incumbents Frank Meeker and Nate McLaughlin, respectively.
Shaffer’s election comes after a contentious Flagler County REC meeting in which about 30 people showed up requesting to become members, ostensibly to balance out the group and prevent an RRR takeover of the chairmanship. But the vote didn’t happen, and the meeting adjourned after Shaffer held what McGuire had described at the time as a “filibuster”: She read a long report until the REC’s reservation time at the Palm Coast Community Center was about to end, and then adjourned the meeting, he said.
“The place turned into a donnybrook — there was yelling and screaming and everybody trying to say something,” McGuire said in an interview after that meeting.
Shaffer said in a Dec. 18 interview that the report she read at that meeting was no longer than ones she has read in the past, and that many of the people who had showed up to be inducted could not be voted on anyhow because they had not yet been vetted to see if they met REC requirements.
She said Sullivan had called her earlier that day saying he’d “received a boatload” of last-minute applications and hadn’t had a chance to review them. “Mr. Sullivan had no intention of holding elections that night anyway,” she said. The induction of new members was on the meeting agenda, she said, but it is a standing agenda item.
“Applicants that are wanting to join, we will be inviting them to come and have the vote that they were entitled to,” she said. “Those who are properly verified by the rule of the state law and by the RPOF rules, we will be inviting those people to come and be voted in.”
Applicants must be nominated by a current member, and current Flagler County REC members can vote not to accept applicants who meet basic requirements, she said. “There doesn’t have to be a reason. If the majority of people don’t want a certain person or individual on the committee because they don’t think they will be doing the party’s work, they can vote any way they want to,” she said.
Sullivan said he’s moving on to other pursuits, and plans to spend more time in his work for the Navy League, where he is a national director and regional vice president for legislative affairs.
“I did my three years as chairman,” he said. “It’s a difficult job, and it’s just time to move on to something else.”