These questions keep coming to mind reviewing the deposition transcript of Jim Greer, who was chairman of the Republican Party of Florida during the Crist term. It is clear from the transcript that Charlie Crist was the decision maker of the RPoF, but it is not clear that the state party was anything more than a romper room for certain wealthy and egotistical maniacs.
I can't say what the Republican Party was under Jeb Bush, except to venture that Jeb! was a micromanager with a team of advisors and consigliere -- like Marco Rubio -- whose loyalty was measured by how close they could keep to a script. (Jeb! was the anti-Crist.)
Then there is Rick Scott. The Miami Herald this morning notes Scott's abysmal poll numbers in Florida. One top Republican legislator sniffs along the line that anyone who can spend $73 million of his own fortune gaining the governor's mansion really doesn't need the state party for anything.
So what purpose does the state party serve? The same question should be asked of the Democrats, but there is nothing like the view provided by the Jim Greer Affair.
Barack Obama bypassed the Florida state party in organizing his 2008 Florida win, and the state party has had no impact in state-wide elections beyond being a virtual billboard for big issues (ie. redistricting).
I can't say I know what state parties do. They hold endless rounds of fundraisers, visit with individual donors who can make their time worthwhile, but with the splintering of campaign investment vehicles into a thousand pieces, who needs the state party?
On the other hand, there are troubling questions served by the vacuous nature of state political parties. For example, is there such a thing as state platforms for political issues that candidates and elected officials should use and abide by, organized under the umbrella of the state political party?
So far as I can tell, nothing of the sort exists. That is partly why the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, for short) and its role in disseminating Koch Brothers- funded programs through Republican majority states and local government is so deeply troubling. The ALEC "platforms" are not vetted through any democratic process. These are specific legislative initiatives from ideologically driven industries that spring wholly formed into the hands of GOP state and county majorities.
At any rate, the Jim Greer deposition is better reading than anything on the NY Times best seller list. More on that, later.