On Friday three more Republicans announced that they too, oppose the Republican Party of Florida's call for opposing the retention of justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.
GOP State Senators Paula Dockery (Lakeland), Dennis Jones (Seminole) and Rene Garcia (Hialeah) have issued a letter calling on the RPOF’s eight-member executive committee to reconsider its “unprecedented insertion of politics into what has been a system that has served Florida and her citizens well.”
At a candidates forum last week in Gulfport, two Pinellas County Republicans, St. Petersburg House Republican Jeff Brandes and South Pasadena Mayor and House District 69 candidate Kathleen Peters had expressed their disavowal of the effort.
Brandes said "the party does its own thing, and the members do their own thing," while Peters said that on this issue, her beliefs didn't match the RPOF's. Perhaps cognizant that her district skews Democratic, she vowed that "there will be other issues that my beliefs don't match theirs."
Senators Dockery and Jones are term-limited out of office, but Garcia is not. Here is the full text of their letter:
We the undersigned are deeply concerned over the September 21 decision of the eight-member Republican Party of Florida executive board to recommend a “no” vote for the retention of Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince.
Since the passage of the merit selection/retention system into our state constitution in 1976, both major political parties have maintained neutrality out of respect for the independence of the judiciary and the strong desire of the citizens of Florida to keep politics out of the courts.
The Justices who are up for merit retention on the November ballot have served ably and honestly in their roles as Supreme Court Justices. Each was retained by the voters in 2006 and immediately after their respective appointments.
As policy makers, we respect the balance of power between our three branches of government. Each of us has been disappointed in one ruling or another from this and other courts. But the need for a fair and impartial judiciary far outweighs our individual disagreements with any specific opinion.
We encourage the RPOF to reconsider this unprecedented insertion of politics into what has been a system that has served Florida and her citizens well.
We hope that additional Republicans will make their voices heard over the upcoming weeks so that voters understand that Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince have served with distinction and deserve to be retained on the court.
Senator Paula Dockery. R-Lakeland
Senator Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah
Senator Dennis Jones, R-Seminole