David Bitner, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, has died after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Bitner had announced his resignation due to health concerns last week, but his resignation date was set for September 23. A former state representative from Port Charlotte, he was 62 years old.
Here's the statement form party Vice Chair Lenny Curry:
With sadness and a heavy heart, I must report that Florida has lost a great leader and public servant. Today, the Republican Party of Florida's Chairman Dave Bitner lost his courageous battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
It has been the honor of a lifetime to work by Chairman Bitner's side. Not only was Dave a born leader, he was an exemplary man in every sense. In honor of his example, I am committed to ensure that the Republican Party of Florida continues its tradition of service to our beloved state.
I ask all Floridians to join me in offering our thoughts and prayers for Dave and his remarkable wife Wendy. Through Dave's battle with ALS, I watched as Wendy was the embodiment of love and compassion. I pray that Dave enjoy the peace that comes from our God, and that Wendy feel God's love and strength in this time of grief.
Bitner had endorsed Curry to replace him in his resignation letter.
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If elected, Curry would be the fourth chairman of the RPOF in two years. Charlie Crist's handpicked chairman, Jim Greer, resigned in the face of pending criminal charges (though that case seems to be falling apart). Jim Thrasher held the job on an interim basis before Bitner's election earlier this year. But shortly after his election, Bitner announced his ALS diagnosis.