Republican Party of Florida chairman David Bitner dies

Sep 9, 2011

The following article was published in The Florida Current on September 9, 2011:

Republican Party of Florida Chairman David Bitner Dies

By Christine Jordan Sexton

Republican Party of Florida chairman David Bitner died on Thursday after battling with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Bitner’s death at his home in Monticello came roughly a week after he announced his plan to resign from his job on Sept. 23 during the Presidency 5 event in Orlando. Bitner and the party has spent months organizing the event that is expected to attract thousands of Republican Party activists who will watch a debate among presidential candidates and then hold a straw poll.

Bitner released a letter last week saying he promised to serve “only as long as I could do so with all the energy and attention this position deserves. I have kept that promise, and it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve you and my beloved Florida.”

He closed the letter noting ““now is the time when Wendy and I look to God for his grace and wisdom as we write my life’s next chapter.”

Bitner was named RPOF Chairman in January 2011, succeeding state Sen. John Thrasher. Three months later Bitner announced he had been diagnosed with ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive and fatal disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and can eventually lead to paralysis and death.

Bitner, who had begun using a motorized scooter to help him, vowed in April to keep his job as chairman as long as possible.

Bitner served in the Florida House from 1992-2000 working with then Speaker Daniel Webster and Speaker Thrasher who was House speaker during Gov. Jeb Bush’s first term in office.

Before entering politics, Bitner was the General Manager of the Charlotte Sun and Weekly Herald. He sold his interest in the newspaper in 1990 and along with his wife owned Sun Specialties, which provides promotional products and business gifts. After leaving the Legislature he established the self named lobbying firm Bitner & Associates and represented the Baltimore Orioles.

Elected officials from across the state released statements following the new of his death and some remarked on their Facebook pages.

 Sen. Don Gaetz posted on his Facebook page. “While his body fought a battle it was fated to lose, Dave’s spirit was unconquerable. He brought integrity, decency, grand good humor and passionate patriotism to his service in the House of Representatives and his tenure as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. God keep his soul and God comfort his devoted Wendy.”

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