Republican Party of Florida Chairman Dave Bitner has stepped down from his post due to complications from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease,"
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Bitner learned in April that he had the disease.
In an emotionally charged teleconference with RPOF state executive committee members, Bitner announced that he was stepping down on September 23rd during Presidency 5.
Bitner also encouraged party unity in standing behind Lenny Curry, not only as party Vice Chairman, but as his successor in the Republican Party of Florida.
In a letter released by Chairman Bitner announcing his resignation:
My fellow Republicans,
When I disclosed a medical diagnosis that comes with tremendous challenges, you opened your hearts and have never wavered in your support. For myself and Wendy, I offer my heartfelt gratitude for those displays of love and kindness.
At the time I first discussed my health with you, I also made a promise that I would serve as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida only as long as I could do so with all the energy and attention this position deserves. I have kept that promise, and it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve you and my beloved Florida. The position of Chairman was not my life’s ambition, but through prayer and faith I came to understand that it was another opportunity to serve my community.
Today, amidst speculation about my current capacity to serve as your Chairman, I wanted to update you. Whether out of malice or in the interest of political posturing, some who had been entrusted with my thoughts about the future shared that information with the media. Something I would never allow to happen on my watch is for the future of the RPOF to be called into question. So, today, after talking with my wife, my friends, and trusted advisors, I have decided to resign my position as Chairman effective Friday, September 23.
Pursuant to Article IX, section 2, of the Constitution of the Republican State Executive Committee of Florida, I hereby call a special meeting of the State Committee for the purpose of a special election. Such special meeting shall be held on Friday, September 23 in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Centre hotel.
In the days between now and that special election, I will continue to work with our Vice Chairman Lenny Curry to advance our Republican vision of making Florida a better place now and in the future. Since our election to Chairman and Vice Chairman, Lenny and I have worked side-by-side on every important RPOF initiative. Through it all, our Vice Chairman has shown the leadership and tenacity that makes our party such an effective political force.
These demonstrations of leadership and commitment to our Republican cause not only make Lenny a great Vice Chairman; they also make him the best qualified leader for our party moving forward to the 2012 elections. Therefore, I respectfully ask for your vote to make Lenny Curry the next Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Lenny is more than qualified to continue the work I have begun, and there is no need for the party to face a protracted race or divisive infighting. In fact, now is the time for us to come together and focus on moving our state and nation in the right direction.
In closing, I want to reiterate the joy I have had working with you. Now is a time when Wendy and I look to God for his grace and wisdom as we write my life’s next chapter.