TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Paula Dockery entered the governor’s race Tuesday, saying she not only wants to change business as usual in the Capitol, but also wants to clean up the Republican Party of Florida.
Dockery is beginning an uphill battle against Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican nomination. She’s not well known around the state, has never run for statewide office and is facing a veteran of three statewide races who has a $2 million headstart in fundraising.
She hopes to take advantage of voter frustration with government and her own party’s leadership, which she says has misspent money and fractured support.
“One of the driving forces in me getting in is not only to change the culture in Tallahassee as it relates to the Legislature, but also to change the direction of the Republican Party,” Dockery said. “I love my party. I don’t love the leadership of my party now.”
She cited abuse of party American Express cards and reports of lavish spending as a need for change.
“There is a lot of dissension, there is a lot of infighting,” she said. “Somebody needs to reunite the party. What needs to be done is say, ‘Hey, we made mistakes, let’s lay it all out there. Let’s get it in the sunshine, let’s share our credit card reports with you and let’s move on. Let’s build a better party, a more honest party and a more ethical party and let’s do what the Republican Party is supposed to do.'”
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer was brief in his response.
“She’s more than welcome to do whatever she feels is appropriate if she’s elected governor,” he said. “I think that the majority of the party leadership is supportive of General McCollum, but Sen. Dockery has been a fine public servant, and Republicans will have an opportunity to choose.”