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Interview with Bill David, May 20, 1974

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Title:
Interview with Bill David, May 20, 1974
Creator:
David, Bill ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Florida and Politics Oral History Collection ( local )

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Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Florida Politics' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
FP 035 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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Bill David

This is an interview with Bill David, executive director of the Florida Republican Party.
The interview was conducted on May 20,1974, in Tallahassee, Florida, by Jack Bass and
Walter De Vries. The interview was done as part of the Southern Oral History Program in
the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carlina Library, Chapel Hill.

pp. 1-4: David relates the background leading up to his current position as director of the Florida
Republican Party, and his professional relationship with Bill Young in getting him elected to
Congress. David believes that 1967 was a banner year for the Republican Party in the Florida
Legislature due to reapportionment, which meant that this redistribution of representation enabled
the Republicans to increase their numbers in both the Florida House and Senate. David says that
another reason for the growth of the Republican Party is significant registration gains.

p. 5: David then focuses on how difficult it is for politicians to deal with such varying statewide
interests in order to get elected. Issues in the Florida Panhandle are of no concern to voters in
Miami; issues in the citrus-growing areas do not interest the industrial areas of Tampa and
Jacksonville. David also compares the liberals in Miami with the conservative voting constituency
in North Florida--two widely differing blocs of voters residing in the same state.

pp. 6-10: The interviewer asks David about the process of getting elected to the legislature as a
Republican candidate, that is, campaign strategy, researching the opponent, targeting the most
important issues, and financial support.

pp. 10-13: David discusses the 1974 elections, specifically the cabinet positions up for re-
election. David hopes the Republican candidate for governor [Jerry Thomas] will win, and if so,
he will need Republican cabinet members. He details the problems that Republican Governor
Claude Kirk had in dealing with the cabinet members who were Democrats--a very antagonistic
relationship. David cites some of the political blunders that Askew has made during his first term
as governor, especially alienating some cabinet members.

pp. 14-16: David then dwells on the growth of the Republican Party'in Florida in the previous
decade, citing Republican-voting senior citizens' move from the Midwest to Florida and an
increase in conservative-voting Democrats moving to the Republican Party. David feels that
many avowed Democrats switched allegiance when McGovern became the front-runner
Democratic presidential candidate. David feels, however, that Watergate has sidetracked the
Republican cause, if only temporarily. And still another reason for Republican political growth is
the party's strategy to register newly naturalized Cubans who will supposedly vote as a bloc.

pp. 17-18: David compares other state Republican party organizations with Florida's
organization. He feels that the Republican machine in Florida is well organized and calls attention
to those who have served the party for a long time, especially Bill Cramer.










p. 20: David contrasts the party structure between the Democrats and the Republicans in Florida,
saying that the Republicans work more closely with the county committees.

pp. 21-22: David discusses the importance of Florida Panhandle voting. He also targets the
complicated election issues of busing and the significance of the Cuban vote.

pp. 22-24: Regarding the next ten years of Florida elections, as far as Republicans capturing
statewide cabinet offices and the Florida House and Senate, David says that much depends on this
1974 election. He feels that Watergate has significantly curtailed efforts to get Republicans
elected in the November elections. He also cites other obstacles such as the state government
scandals called "cabinetgate" and the Senator Grey matter. David wants more Republicans in the
Florida House and Senate to run for cabinet positions.





FROM THE .... A. z/07
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION, THE LIBRARY OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL .








This is an interview with Bill David, executive director of the

Florida Republican Party. The interview was made on May 20, 1974 in

Tallahassee, Florida by Jack Bass and Walter De Vries. It was transcribed

by Joe Jaros.



Walter De Vries: a lot of interviewing too, of lobbyists and

legislators.

Jack Bass: What's your background, in summary? You have been in

this job for how long?

Bill David: This is my fourth year. It's probably some kind of

longevity record. Prior to that, I was the executive assistant to the

senate minority leader and prior to that, my background was radio and

television news, which seems to be a general gravitation-to politics,

into my side of politics.

JiB.: And you were how long with the senate minority leader?

David: '67 until the end of '70, when he was elected to the Congress

and I decided that Washington wasn't my cup of tea.

W.D.V.: Did you go with him to Washington, or .

David: Well, I had a hard decision. I am very, very close to him

both professionally and emotionally.

J.B.: Who was that?

David: It's Bill Young. And you know, we were close friends, and I

had been with him since '67, which meant that our communications were just





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page 2



unbelievable. Most things didn't have to be said, you know, to get the

job done.

W.D.V.: Well, were there many Republicans in the legislature in

'67 and '68.

David: '67 was the big year, well, the special election in '67.

That was the biggest year. And he was minority leader then. But a few

years before that, he was the only Republican in the senate. He used

to hold Republican caucuses in a telephone booth.

W.D.V.: But the big jump came after the '66 election.

David: Yeah, and then they reapportioned.

W.D.V.: In '67?

David: Right. That's when the Republican party realized that with

the reapportionment, while it wasn't particularly to our liking, it was a

lot better than what we had had. In fact, reapportionment, I would think,

is something that you all have got to study if you are going to get the

picture of Florida. Because the reapportionment came, along with other

things, at the end of the Pork Chop Era and so the Republican party at

that point had an astute enough leadership to realize that this was the

time that we could begin to get into a meaningful position in the senate

and house, which they did. We were at our best at that point.

W.D.V.: How many senators were there at that point?

David: Twenty.

W.D.V.: And how many house members?

David: Well, you've got me. I knew that you would ask me. Well, I

would say around forty, I think. Maybe thirty-five. How many are there now?

W.D.V.: Was that the strongest that the party ever was? Was that






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page 3



the high point?

David: Well, percentage-wise, we are better now. Percentage-wise,

because you see, that was a forty-eight house senate, now it's only a forty

house senate.

J.B.: So, how many Republicans there now?

David: We have fourteen in the senate now.

J.B.: How about in the house?

David: In the house we have forty-three. Out of 120. So, you see,

in both houses we have veto power.

W.D.V.: So, the percentage has increased over the years?

David: Yeah. I can get the stuff for you exactly. I'd say reasonably

so, yes.

J.B.: We'd like to get that each year, what it has been, just the

figures on that. Because I think that's what it was .

David: Let me get the figures and make a list for you, because I don't

want to trust my memory and I can get all the stuff put together in one fell

swoop as opposed to interrupting now as we go along.

(tape turned off)

J.B.: the first Republican Congressman, am I correct on that?

And he got elected in what year?

David: Oh, boy. He served sixteen years.

J.B.: That would be around '56.

David: He went out in '72. He finished eight terms. So, about '56.

I'll check that.

J.B.: Well, we can start about that, with the election of the first

Congressman, and at that time, how many Republicans in each house of the






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page 4




legislature and go from there on both the Congress and the legislative

seats and if you have any figures on local officials, that would be good

too.

David: I doubt that we do.

J.B.: If you just have the others on a two-year basis, I think that

it would really show exactly, really will reflect the growth of the party.

David: Right. I can do that and I can give you the registration

figures that will make that same reflection.

J.B.: Good.

David: We passed the million mark last year. And that's just

emotional, you know. Of course, we played it to the hilt. But more significant

is the fact that while we were a few years back, out-registered two and at-half

to one, we are now down to about two to one. The significance last year was

that we were about registering one on one. Of course, you've got to

register one on one for a long time before attrition and a lot of other

things get us up even, but it nevertheless was the most dramatic mathematical

significance. I'll say that passing the million mark, that was great for a

big party, but the more significant was the fact that we were gaining in

terms of being out-registered almost two and a half to one to almost an even

keel. Like I say, I've got the complex registration figures.

W.D.V.: Is Florida the only southern state that is making significant

registration gains for the Republican party?

David: I can't tell you, but I rather doubt it. I would think that

Tennessee would have made an awful spurt, you know, when the ended up with

the governor and the second senator and all that. Have you been there

yet?

J.B.: No, we're going there next.




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page 5



David: O.K., Ron Rietdorf, who is my counterpart, is one sharp

cookie. It would seem to me that he would have taken the iniative to have

had a real registration push once Dunn got elected. That was a real fairy

tale election. If you get a chance to talk to him, do so.

J.B.: O.K., let me get his name.

David: Winfield Dunn, he was .

J.B.: No, your counterpart.

David.: Oh, Ron Rietdorf. R-I-E-T-D-O-R-F, I think.

(tape turned off)

David: You've had three or four different ball games in this state,

when it comes to politics. The problems down in the lower east coast have

no relations whatsoever to the problems in the Panhandle which have no

relations whatsoever to the problems on the middle west coast, which have

no relations to the problems in the horse and orange country. And a couple

of industrial areas that we've got, Jacksonville and Tampa. It's a tough

statewide race. The state of Florida is real tough. I mentioned Tennessee.

Well, Tennessee has got some of the same kinds of problems. And Governor

Dunn recognizes that and he will do a good job, I think, of campaigning

correctly. We have had guys that have got themselves in trouble because

they come from liberal Dade County and they are liberal themselves, but man,

when they get up in the Panhandle here, near the Georgia-Florida border and

all of a sudden, they have got their tie off and the harmonica sticking out

of their back pocket and it suddenly turns out that they were born in

Georgia. They get caught up in it and it gives them problems.

J.B.: To what extent does the Republican party's financing in Florida

depend upon the filing fees?







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page 6



David: Not nearly to the extent of the Democrats. We need it, I'm

not saying that we don't need it. That is, we need it as long as we are

doing the kind of job that we are doing now, of pouring lots of money back

into a campaign, in a legislative race particularly. A tremendous of support,

right up to the limit of our ability, support to the county committees, for

example.

J.B.: Suppose that I am considered a serious, or would be viewed by

you as a serious candidate for the legislature in a seat held by a Democrat

but looks like, you know, that it is a real possibility?

David: A clean shot?

J.B.: Clean?

David: Right.

J.B.: What sort of support would I be able to get out of the what

is it called, the Republican Central Committee, the Republican State Headquarters?

David: No, we call ourselves, we are supposed to be the Republican

State Executive Committee, but in our constitution, it calls ourselves the

Republican Party of Florida. It makes a lot more sense than the Central

Committee or whatever.

J.B.: Right. Well, as I say, I don't have a lot of political experience

but I am viewed as someone who looks like he could go in.

David: Well, the first thing that we would do, of course, is convince

you to run. And incidentally, conversely, there are people where we try

to convince you not to run. But if you were in that district that we have

been lead to think impossible, or not impossible, which means that unless you

have got some kind of white hat with some kind of a twist to get the seat,

and once we have convinced you to run, if that be the case, then we feel that

we owe you an obligation. So, first off, we try to help you in the field to




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page 7



get started. We have a seminar for example, in how to campaign. We'll

work with you in how to put together some volunteers and get some money,

find somebody who you think is worth his salt to help you with the campaign.

We try and talk over very general strategy, we try and talk about what the

issues are in your particular district, try to talk about those things that

are unique to your district. Then, we start in researching your opponent.

And the product of our research two years ago was about fourteen hundred

pages, a professional job on different Democratic incumbents that we were

challenging. And it consisted of their roll call votes on issues that we felt

might have some impact, some import. Now, this has got to be rather broad,

because we did the whole legislature in one research operation as opposed to

taking each Democrat individually, so that we had to address ourselves to

three times as many issues that would interest the Panhandle or would

interest Dade County and so forth and so on. And then, we got to counsel

with our candidates on which issues we considered important in their area.

This research had such an impact that it made the Democrats so made and

a couple of things happened. One, the Miami Herald called one of our

candidates, who put in a good sized ad outlying specifics where his opponent

had not voted the way that we felt Dade County would have liked, and they

called our candidate and said, "If you are not down to our office by two

o'clock,"or some such impossible thing like that "we are going to

print a retraction to this ad in tomorrow's paper." And so, I had to fly

my assistant down to Miami with the corroborating paper work, in effect, the

copies of the roll calls that were involved and our opponent had a damn

attorney there and my assistant backed him right down on every point and that

was the end of it. That was thing that they tried to do because they were







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page 8



so mad about it. The other thing they did is that they put a bill in this

session saying that if you used a voting record against an incumbent, the

correctness of your assertation would have to be certified by whatever body

was involved. And of course, we screamed and jumped up and down, because

that was the substance of it, period. Nothing that they had to certify it

within seventy-two hours or something like that, so that we could take it

to the secretary of the senate or the senate office, to the clerk of the

house, who are of course, both Democrats, and they just wouldn't ever get

around to certifying it. So, this was very valuable. And there are two

or three races where we can specifically say that the race was won with it.

The most noticeable being, and of course, the most gratifying, was the

senate seat in Dade County. And we won that seat on just one issue, that

is, the senator just never was there when there was a session. I mean, he

had just an abysmal attendance and voting record, and we documented it.

And so, our candidate put a picutre of an empty chair, a senate chair, in

the newspaper ads, "Where is your representative in the senate? He has

failed to vote on 2,438 roll calls," or whatever the hell the figures

were. And there was no question that-that was the reason that we won that

seat. Then, it comes to money. Considering how to deal with all this

that I discuss with you, we put this on a priority basis, as to how much

effort, how much time and so forth goes into this specific race. You can't

just spread yourself thin enough to do everything that you want to do everyplace.

J.B.: That's basically a decision made by you and your staff?

David: Yes. We ask for an input from our people at the county level.

J.B.: Is this based on what, just an analysis of conditions in that

district?






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page 9



David: Well, it's based on past statistical history, it's based on

current registration, it's based on our opposition and it's based on our

candidate. We had a couple of seats, for crying out loud, that we should

have won, they were winnable seats, but our candidates were so bad that

we just wrote them off. And you have to do this, you've got to take this

kind of an attitude or you spread yourself so thin that you get nothing

done. And on the other hand, where we have got sure shot, our support is

at a lower level. In fact, logically, this is a little bit hard to do so.

Here we have got a guy that we know is going to be in the senate and yet,

we don't befriend him as much and we take the risk of him understanding

that, understanding why we didn't to him with a little more money and so

on. He gettSmad at you. So, finance for them is passed out in the same

way and it represents a pretty good chunk out of the qualifying piece.

It was well over $150,000.

WrD.V.: How much do you get in fees? Do you say that most of the

fees go for candidate expenditure?

David: Well, if you wanted to take it in terms of what we give them

in flat cash and what we spend in their behalf, it comes to more than what

the qualifying fees are. Here we are at May 20 now and we will be operating

on full staff by June 15 and between June 15 and November 15, there isn't

one single damn thing that happens here that isn't on behalf of the

candidates in one way or another. In '72, we received $253,000 in

qualifying fees. We faid out in flat out contributions, dollars, not

research and advising and so forth, $121,000. That's about 50% of everything

that we received. If you take our payroll of $60,000 and figure that just

half of that went to direct candidate support, that's another $30,000 and

you take our travel of $23,000 and almost all of that was for candidate




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page 10



support, well you see, I'm nearer now to the $200,000 figure of the $250,000

collected.

W.D.V.: And then you have a pretty substantial budget on top of that

from contributions?

David: Our budget in an off year, well, 1973 we budgeted and I'm

happy to say, came within about $2,000 of the budget, $1800 to $2000. We

budgeted, I think, over $150,000.

W.D.V.: And all that in an off year has to come from public contributions?

David: No, we try to sandbag it from an on year. Which we did to, I

think, the extent of about $60,000 in '72. So, that meant that I had to come

up with the other ninety.

W.D.V.: So, what do you think that it will be this year, about

$350,000 then?

David: Well, it's very hard to say what is going to happen this year.

I'm hoping that filing fees will be up, but with the present atmosphere, you

don't really know. You see, we've got all of our cabinet positions up for

re-election this year. You may have noticed that some of our cabinet people

are getting in trouble. We have the governor's race and we've got the U.S.

Senate race. We've got all of the house and half of the senate and then

various school boards and county commissions, candidates throughout the state.

And we are in a much different posture in terms of expending money this

year. Because in '72, we only had one statewide candidate. And that meant

that there was only one candidate that was looking to us for pretty good

chunks of money, like 15 or $20,000. This year, if we have three or four

good cabinet people, and again, if we are involved in convincing them to

run, that is going to have to cut inroads into what we have spent on the






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page 11



legislature. Because we have got real hopes to elect our governor this

year. Real high hopes. And boy, if you don't elect a cabinet member or

two with him, the guy is in trouble the day that he is inaugurated. This

was one of the problems, although he had a lot more, with Claude Kirk.

Man, he was crying in the wilderness, which is what you do if you are a

governor and are against six cabinet members. So, on the other hand,Aif

you get the governor and we elect a couple of cabinet members, well, we

are in a position then where we will have four guys that we can yank around

and get one of them on our side and you are going to win some of the battles

instead of consistently losing. Claude Kirk couldn't get a motherhood

resolution passed if that cabinet made up their mind that they didn't want

it. So, a lot of ways in which he could have been effective, he was not.

W.D.V.: Well, you give cash, you don't provide media services like

t.v. production and all that? You let the candidates work that out

themselves?

David: Yeah. We may, which we have done in the past, we may do it

again this year, but so many questions get involved in it. We may provide

a Sunday supplement that goes into, before the the Sunday before the

election. Which has our boy's slate in it. The difficulty there is that

you have to change it for different areas. Either that, or you get so

much bulk when you try to put it all in. So, that will depend. Circumstances

will dictate whether or not we do it this year.

W.D.V.: Do you provide polls for them?

David: We are going to this year. I got authorization of it the last

board meeting. Not a big chunk of money. And also, my second half budget

is approved at our state meeting, I'm going to have one of the gals on the






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page 12



on the staff work an odd shift so that she is here from six to nine every

night and working with RNC. And we've got a way figured out that in that

six to nine time every night, we can keep an updated polling process once

a week. I don't think that's the greatest idea in the world generally, but

the way, the rapidity with which the atmosphere is changing these days, what

might be true today isn't worth a plug nickel a week from today. I have

to be responsive to those changing moods. Or lose'a lot of races that we

shouldn't.

W.D.V.: How do you think that you'll do in '74?

David: Well, I think that the upset of the year will be that we

are going to win with the Republican we are going to put our

Republican in the governor's chair. I'm not saying that whistling in the

dark or on false premises or anything else.

J.B.: We saw the Orlando Sentinel poll recently which showed Askew

what it was very one-sidedq

David: Well, I'll tell you how it showed them. It showed them just

the reverse of what Askew was at this time when he was running, when Askew

was getting that 8% or 11% or whatever it was, and Kirk was way up the other

way.

J.B.: What do you think is going to reverse it?

David: Many things. First, it is in the process of reversing. I

think that Reubin has made some tremendous tactical errors, not the least of

which is getting Tom Adams madder than hell at him. Adams is going to cause

Reubin some embarrassment and some real problems. Reubin made another very

bad tactical error in the fight over who was going to head up the department

of natural resources. And he made another big error in trying to get some of






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page 13



these cabinet people in trouble, and they know it. You take a Bud Dickinson

or a Doyle Conner, who have been at this game for a long time, who have had

the power in their own office and in offices all over the state under them,

to make friends, to build organizations and so forth, it's pretty powerful.

And Reubin or Reubin's advisors, I don't know which, have seen fit to take

these cabinet people on. And I don't care what happens to them, I don't care

if they are all indicted, the people that are behind them will blame Reubin

for having their friends indicted and this could hurt. I think his national

political ambitions will show through and that's going to hurt. He's really

not interested in being governor a second term, but he knows that he's got

to go for a second term if he is going to have a chance at the vice-presidency

or even possibly the presidency in '76. I don't think that there's any

question about it.

J.B.: Let me just ask you a question on that, playing devil's advocate

a minute. Why would that hurt, assuming it's true, why would that hurt him?

Why wouldn't it almost help him from the standpoint of the people in Florida

say how wonderful it would be to have a Floridian as president?

David: I think that you've got a lot in the question, and I think that

I can only give you the answer that is proof, it hurt Claude Kirk. And

particularly right now, with Watergate and cabinetgate, where they are

showing so many politicians as being power hungry. I think that it hurts.

i -iazal-aj moreH d tii t-an, I can agree with you that

you know, it would be great to have somebody from Florida. But I'm a

political cat, too. Claude Kirk was hurt tremendously, though. No, I

will concede that one reason that Claude Kirk was hurt by it was because

the media hated him and they found that this was a way to berate him and






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page 14


poke fun at him and so forth. So, he was dubbed things like Claudius Rex,

you would see cartoons of a crown and scepter, things like that.

W.D.V.: To what do you attribute the growth of the Republican party

in Florida? It's really less than ten years, isn't it?

David: Yeah. Well, one thing that you've got to attribute it to

is Bill Cramer, who did a lot to mold the party. And what gave him the

material to mold it with was Florida becoming the home of senior citizens

and coming from the conservative Mid-west, where they knew the Republican

party to be a real party. And it got to the point where the supervisors

of registration in Florida could not longer get away with, "Oh, you don't

want to register Republican, you won't be able to participate in elections."

Which is what they did. I mean, blatantly, it's what they did. You know,

like I say, the people from Ohio and Indiana, they were Mid-west senior

citizens conservatives who came down here. And then, you get into a

chicken and egg situation. That is, what comes first, more registration or

more elected officials. And it sort of worked both ways, you get enough

registered Republicans and some guy decides that finally he is going to take

a fly at it on the Republican ticket. If he won, then more of these people

who were registered as Democrats but believed as Republicans started moving

their registration. And where it first began was in Pinellas County, which

was Bill Cramer's home base. It was a long, slow process. But now there

are two county officials in Pinellas who are not Republican.

W.D.V.: Well, essentially then, it was the move in of conservative,

Mid-western Republicans from other parts of the country, older people?

David: I would say so, yeah.

W.D.V.: Are you now getting a movement of disaffected, conservative

Democrats into the party? From Florida?

David: Yeah. We had a big surge when McGovern was nominated. A big



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page 15



surge of switch-overs. I think that Watergate has slowed us down now.

We are constantly working at it. We are always harping it here. A great

many of our counties do continue, I'm talking about year around, year in and

year out, voter registration. I think that you will find the Democrats

around the state on occasion will make big splashes, quite possibly with

some good results, too. But they don't do that on a continual basis that

you will find that so many of our Republican committees do. We do things

like, contacting every person that becomes naturalized, congratualing them

and saying things like, "Now you can vote and so forth." The state committee

last year gave $12,000 to the Dade County committee in attempts to increase

successful attempts to reach the Cubans and bring them into the Republican

party. And the way that they did that, they would get a bunch of them

deputized as assistant supervisors of elections and they would be sitting in

the hallway at that desk when a big Cuban class was naturalized. And of

course, this Cuban at the desk who spoke Cuban to the Cubans and so forth

and so on andwe were registering about 80 to 85% of them until about

two months ago and the Democrats realized what we were doing running away

with the Cubans and now they have started to work and maybe they have cut

us down to 65%. By the same token, we have got a situation in Broward County

which, unfortunately, is just the reverse. Broward is a very strong

Republican stronghold. There is a huge development going into south Broward.

And it's a retirement community for union workers and they are just raising

all sorts of hell with us down there. It's going to be a lot worse before

it gets better.

J.B.: How big is that thing going to be?

David: I have to check with somebody down there, but it seems to me

something like 65,000 people. It's really going to be such a bloc.




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page 16



J.B.: Which Congressional district is that? Or whose Congressional

district?

David: Let's see .(tapeiturned off) I think Herb Burke's.

J.B.: The Republicans hold how many Congressional seats now, in

Florida?

David: Four.

J.B.: Four out of .

David: Fifteen.

J.B.: Do you think that there will be a gain or a loss or a hold-on

this year?

David: Gain. Of one, possibly two, a freak-out, three.

J.B.: Would that depend, to some extent, what Frey does?

David: Yeah, and when I say it, I'm going on the assumption that

Lou will stay where he's at. I don't know what would happen in that

district if Lou didn't run. The reason that it's so cloudy is that, my

Lord, we'd have a primary with three or four guys in it, probably. When

you get into a primary like that, you just don't know what might happen.

Or what might happen to the temper of the people.

J.B.: What do you think will happen in the Senate race? The Democrats

apparently are taking big aim at it.

David: Yeah. If I were them, I would too. I don't know. At the

moment, everything hinges on what that grand jury in Jacksonville does.

J.B.: What does the state party do insofar as Congressional races

are concerned? The same similar thing as to what they do in legislative--

races?

David: No, we don't, or we didn't in '72. We didn't support them






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page 17



financially. Because we didn't want to get into this damn reporting act.

Which it looks like we will have to get into anyway. And I just don't

know yet, this is a decision that the board has to make. Frankly, we

haven't even thought out a recommendation to them, yet.

W.D.V.: When you look at the other state Republican party organizations

based in the South, and perhaps outside the South, would you say that you

are, because of the filing fees and other things, are better financed and

also perhaps better organized than the rest of them?

David: Well, certainly not Texas.

W.D.V.: All right, excluding Texas. Do you know of any party that

has the kind of financial base that youLhave?

David: I would think that Tennessee has. Now, I think that some

other states do have filing fees, but I don't know if they are in the South.

J.B.: Georgia does.

David: Georgia may have. I don't think that money is what, I don't

think that it's money that makes us well organized. I think that'it's a

hell of a lot of .

W.D.V.: I said, one, in the same class, two, well organized.'

David: I think that the reason we are well organized is that a hell

of a lot of people worked awful damn hard over a long period of time.

I think that we magnetized when we really emerged as a real force here.

Again, we have to go back to the era around the mid-60's and to '67

when we finally hit the donkey over the head and we got some attention

with those special elections and reapportionment. But we've got some

people who have hung in here and worked hard for several years. We've

got a Bill Cramer, who,going back into the 50's and called attention to

the possibilities and never let go of it. Because if he hand't, that would




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page 18



have meant that if '67 had fluked upon us, it would have been that we

weren't prepared for it. As it was, we were prepared for it. There are

a lot of things that I think we are lacking as a party, but we are at

least constantly striving to stay in there and slug them.

J.B.: Is Cramer in Washington these days?

David: Yeah, he has a law office in Washington and in Miami.

J.B.: In Miami?

David: Yeah.

W.D.V.: We ought to get to see him, because he seems to be the key.

David: Oh, I don't see how you can write the book without seeing him.

(tape turned off)

David: doubting Thomas.

J.B.: We plan to do that and I talked to him either Friday or

Saturday and (tape turned off) how much permanent damage, if

any, was that primary fight in '70?

David: Well, permanent is a long time. It did some damage that we

are growing out of now and have been. And Tommy, incidentally, has been

very instrumental in getting people working together now that wouldn't

speak to each other when that fiasco was over. And this has helped, but

it took a lot of doing.

J.B.: Can you background for us, not for attribution, just what took

place in that? I've seen various, more or less, versions of it.

David: Well, turn the tape off. (tape turned off)

W.D.V.: well, strictly personality?

David: Yeah, it's not an ideological split. Check Senator Grey's

voting record. It can't be an ideological split. It's a power split.






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page 19




Probably Claude Kirk worked at it. He wanted the Kirk party instead of

the Republican party.

J.B.: Now, is Crittenden aligned with Kirk as well as Gurney?

David: Yeah.

W.D.V.: Does Kirk play any role in the party at all now?

David: No. Occasionally, he will make a speech some place, or

you know, show up at some function or another.

W.D.V.: But he pretty well disappeared right after he left office?

David: Oh, yeah.

J.B.: Is Paula Hawkins aligned with Cramer?

David: Yes.

J.B.: So, if she runs it presumably will be a renewal of that battle

to some extent, won't it?

David: No, I don't think so. It's an entirely different set of

circumstances, because of this grand jury situation.

J.B.: Right. But won't it still be a certain amount of the same

people aligned up behind the two candidates?

David: I've never thought of it that way. You could be righter than

I am, but I look at it at this point in terms of if the Senator is

indicted, the ball game is over as far as he is concerned.

(tape turned off)

W.D.V.: Was Kirk's strength in that fight basically because he was

governor and in control of that and when that was gone, there wasn't a

Kirk organization as such left?

David: That's right.

W.D.V.: That was kind of and what's left of it Gurney's

incumbancy, is that the basis of his strength?




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page 20



David: Yeah, I'd say that a lot of it would be, but most of those

people that surrounded Kirk, they are either scattered or have come back

into the fold .

J.B.: Well, is Thomas more ofa significant figure in the Republican

party in Florida at this time?

David: Oh, yeah. Paula Hawkins'strength would be in the line of

something, in terms of party structure, has pretty much got to be Tommy.

W.D.V.: Is the party structure of the Republicans different from the

Democrats? In other words, is there an input from your county committfCs-

into your executive committee?

David: Uh-huh.

W.D.V.: That's not true of the Democrats, is it? As we understand.

David: I don't think that now it is. In fact, they are talking

about playing a very dangerous ball game, I think they are just over-

reacting in a nature. They are going to have their state committee people

elected by the county commissions, they'll make a bad mistake, believe me.

W.D.V.: How does yours work?

David: Our state committee people are elected by the electorate in

the primary.

W.D.V.: Like how?

David: By county. And additionally, we have structured into our

by-laws, because we are trying to get a closer relationship with our

county committees: without a take-over by the county committees, which

doesn't make sense either. We are trying to find the best of both

worlds. And so, what we did in '71, we passed in our constitution a

thing that said that in each Congressional district, the chairmen of

each Congressional district will caucus and elect them from among themselves,





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page 21



one member as a representative on the state committee. And those fifteen

committee members so chosen will caucus and among .



(end of side A of tape)



J.B.: Well, you say about the difficulty of campaigning in Florida,

that you take the horseshoe and what's just above it and within it, you

almost equalize,the real battle is the Panhandle. Is this considered .

David: I don't want to say that the real battle is the Panhandle,

I say that ultimately, the Panhandle can decide the races, but you've got

to do everything that you have to do normally. For example, we've got

to do heavy in Dade County just so we don't get completely wiped out.

In the same way, the Democrat has to do his homework in Pinellas County

to keep from losing eight to one. So, all of that has to go on, but I'm

saying that if you have done all of that and your Democratic opposition has

done all of that, then it's who can bring the Panhandle home that tells the

story.

J.B.: So, is that like the result of, say, busing becoming a major

issue in the governor's race, considering Askew's position on it?

David: I think that you can say it right now, I don't think that

busing per se can be an issue anymore. How much more of an issue can you

make out of it, but Askew's attitude toward busing very definitely will

be an issue. Because this paints the man for what he really is. In other

words, I don't think that our candidate can now go in, go anyplace, and

tell the people that, "When I become governor, we are going to stop all

this busing. Because, first of all, I don't think that he will say






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page 22



something that he hasn't got a chance of delivering on and second, I

think that the people realize that they can't deliver on that. But he

can go before people and say, "Now, let's see what kind of a man my

opponent is. My man is a kind of man that says, 'busing is the thing

to do.'" So, definitely, that will be the thing to do. I say definitely,

but I can't speak for our candidate. But in the discussions that we have

had, it would seem to me that is something he is going to be saying a lot

of.

J.B.: How significant do you consider the Cuban vote and where it's

going? How significant do you see that in the future?

David: The what ?

J.B.: The Cuban vote, the Latin vote?

David: Oh, it's important in Dade County, particularly in the

legislative races in Dade County. The strange thing about the Cubans

though, is that they have a hard time working as a bloc.

J.B.: Is Watergate hurting the Republicans significantly with the

Cuban vote?

David: I don't think so. You mean because of the involvement of

Cubans?

J.B.: Right.

David: If it is, I haven't sensed it, or I've not been told of it at

any time. A matter of fact, one of them was at some get together here a

few months ago, I guess that he is out on probati6onand he was introduced

and they gave him a roaring, earsplitting, standing ovation.

W.D.V.: Looking ahead the next ten years, Bill, what do you see in

terms of Republicans capturing statewide offices, the house and the

legislature?




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page 23



David: Well, that's going to depend on this year.

W.D.V.: This is a critical year?

David: Oh, without Watergate, I would have said that this year we

would arrive or damn near arrive to the point of where we could see down

the year and I could say to you, "O.K., two years from now or four years

from now, we are going to have the legislature." But Watergate, for one

thing, the Grey situation for a second, and the cabinetgate for a third,

have so muddied the waters that I am hard put now, maybe a couple of months

from now I'll be better put, but I'm hard put now as of May 20th, to really

say what is going to happen this November. One thing, there are a hell of

a lot of guys on both sides of the aisle that aren't going to run. And

that's going to bring up all sorts of questions. You will be dealing with

new people on both sides of the race and .

W.D.V.: Well, had it not occurred, what would have been your

prediction?

David: Well, my/prediction was that we would have come close, if

not have succeeded in capturing at least one house.

W.D.V.: In '74?

David: Right. And would have won or damn near won the governorship.

And won one cabinet post. Now, you see, the cabinet side of this thing

is all Democrat problems. And Senator Gurney without his problems would

have had no trouble about being ve-elected. There are so many questions

that I cannot answer today, that in other years would be answerable at

this stage of the game. It's awfully hard to see. And really, I've never

been in this position before. It used to be that maybe to a 75% or 80%

degree I could plan to work and work the plan, but this year, just two

months before qualifying is about to close, I can't even plan the work.




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page 24



And it's a tough position to be in. I'm not going to be able to plan the

work until something happens in the Gurney situation, something happens in

the cabinet situation and we see who we end up getting to file for the

various positions.

J.B.: Are you seeking to get Republican legislators to file for

cabinet posts?

David: Yeah, selfishly, it's a tough thing to do. To take a guy

who you know is a cinch for re-election to his senate or house seat and

to convince him to go into an iffy shot at a statewide race. At this

point, as a matter of fact, while we have got four guys at least that

as of now have told me that they are running for cabinet seats, not one

of them is in the legislature now. Two of them are office holders, two

of them are not. The two that are office holders are office holders at

the county level.

W.D.V.: So they all have very little visibility?

David: Right. I don't think that visibility is going to mean a whole

lot this year. At least, I think that gaining recognition anymore is almost

a mechanical situation. You know, if you have enough dollars, and use your

head properly, you can overcome a name recognition thing in a matter of six

to eight weeks, something like that. All those other things must be taken

into account. Even what a guy looks like will count, more than ever. I

don't what comes to your mind as a clean type looking candidate, whatever

that is, I think that is what people are going to look for. There will be

awhile here when I think that you can throw all the books away.

(end of interview)









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