August 12, 2010
Media Contact: Adrian Wyllie
912 Group: Republicans Only Need Apply
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – When Glenn Beck founded the 912 project, he laid out a philosophy of nine principles and 12 values. He urged people to come together who believed in those principles and values to form local, grassroots organizations. Within days, 912 groups were forming all across the nation.
Beck also had a piece of advice that he repeatedly passed on to these groups. That advice was to find the best candidates, ones that would uphold the principles and values, regardless of party affiliation. The majority of the 912 groups have heeded his words, and have opened their doors to all Constitutional conservatives, regardless of party affiliation.
However, at least one of these groups has taken a different approach. The South Pinellas 9/12 group in Florida has gone out of their way to exclude non-GOP candidates from speaking at their meetings, rallies, and candidate forums. This has at least one third-party conservative steaming mad.
Enter Florida U.S. Senate hopeful Alex Snitker, the Libertarian Party candidate and a 912 pledge signer. Snitker, a former U.S. Marine and strong Constitutional conservative, is running a grassroots campaign that has recently gotten the attention of the media and pollsters.
Snitker and his campaign staff have repeatedly asked that he be given the opportunity to speak at one of the South Pinellas 912 group’s events. Each time, group organizer Barbara Haselden has assured Snitker that he would be invited to the next event that included U.S. Senate Candidates.
While stringing Snitker along like a backup prom date, Haselden was all the while courting their anointed superstar, GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio.
In a email to the 912 group on Tuesday, Haselden excitedly announced that Rubio would finally grace them with his presence at their Freedom Day Rally in St. Petersburg on September 12. Attempting to maintain the increasingly transparent veil of non-partisanship, Haselden also wrote that, “All the Conservative Candidates have been invited to attend.”
Assuming this was confirmation of Haselden’s promise to include Snitker at the next Senate candidate event, his campaign staff began promoting Snitker’s appearance right away.
Within hours of their announcement, Haselden withdrew Snitker’s invitation, stating, “I do not recall issuing that invitation for Alex to speak at the rally.”
After being pressed by campaign staff about backing out on her promise, she elaborated, “You are right when you say that I said if and when we have a candidates forum that included the senate seat that we would invite Alex Snitker.”
“We are not having a candidates forum for the senate race at this time nor do we have one planned,” Haselden added. By that logic, she appears to have a point. A Senate candidate “forum” would have to include more than one Senate candidate.
How can you ensure that an event attended by your favorite Senate candidate, in this case Marco Rubio, does not become a forum? Simply deny all other conservative candidates access. Hence, no forum.
What may be most interesting about South Pinellas 912’s favorite son is that, unlike Snitker, Rubio has not signed the 912 pledge according to www.912candidates.org.
There may be another, more sinister reason for Snitker’s invitation being revoked. Rumor has it that Rubio’s staff is pulling the candidate from any event where Snitker is speaking. One event organizer reported that Rubio’s staff declined an invitation after learning the grassroots Libertarian would be there.
One potentially disastrous effect of this GOP takeover of a few, isolated 912 groups is that it gives fodder to left-wing pundits and politicians who have taken to the airwaves claiming this is an “astroturf” movement. Based on the actions of the South Pinellas 912, it would be hard to defend accusations that they are just another branch of the Republican establishment.
While a handful of 912 groups like South Pinellas are looking more and more like Republican PACs, the overwhelming majority of 912 groups have held true to their founding principles and values. To their credit, many 912 groups such as Tampa, Miami, Pasco, Hernando, and North Pinellas have welcomed Snitker and other non-GOP candidates with open arms, and on an even footing with Marco Rubio.
August 12, 2010