Update, June 12, 2012: A year later, the PBA has a couple hundred fewer Republicans in its ranks, thanks to this event. Read an update here.
The reason for the switch? The association, which serves as the bargaining union for the county's law enforcement officers, is unhappy with the leadership of Governor Rick Scott and the results of the past legislative session, including changes to the Florida Retirement System that will require the workers to pay more of their own wages into retirement savings.
The PBA may be a union, but it's not traditionally a bunch of liberals. "You'd be surprised," says Broward PBA President Patrick Hanrahan. "I think most of our police officers and stuff are Republicans." Well, until the party-switching party, that is.
"We've been supporting Republican governors for the past 20 years," Hanrahan continued.
But this one's antics may be too much for the traditionally red-voting, gun-wielding, meat-eating, hippie-busting (OK, we'll stop) cops to stomach.
"[Governor Scott's] union dues deduction bill is a flat-out union-busting bill," says Hanrahan. "Under the law, a government agency wouldn't be allowed to collect union dues if it was involved in political campaigns." He notes that Scott had "no problem" taking money from the police union in the past election. Scott did get significant pushback on the bill from some Republican representatives, but the House eventually passed it.
So here are the details: On Saturday, July 16, from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. behind the PBA headquarters on SW 26th Terrace in Fort Lauderdale, the union will have elections officials standing by to register new voters or switch party registrations for anyone with a valid Florida ID.
Hanrahan says he's heard remarkably little controversy among the rank and file about the event, though he got one letter saying he had been a little too sarcastic when he wrote in the newsletter, "If you continue to be a registered Republican, you should be happy with what's going on in Tallahassee."
Apparently, the officers didn't want to be accused of such a thing.
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The Broward PBA wants to send a message to the Republican Party, the governor and the Republican-led legislature-- those that are wreaking havoc on the lives of public employees--that we will not sit idly by and take it. Supporting the GOP means supporting those that are working hard against your interests and those who believe that labor unions are bent on destroying America.On July 16, we want you, our members, your friends and your family, to leave the Republican Party. Law enforcement, firefighters, teachers and other public employees are invited to join us in switching from the Republican party to the party of their choice. Those who are not registered voters are welcome to come register so their voices can also be heard. Reg- istering or switching parties takes two minutes. All you need is a government-issued ID like a Florida Driver's License or a Florida ID.There is one more legislative session before the 2012 elections--let's put them on notice.