The Lauderdale Beach Republican Club had a problem: There was a Democrat in the house.
Or in the resort, to be specific. The Clarion Beach Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Club founder Bob Wolfe invited Sun-Sentinel political reporter Buddy Nevins to address the flock at its monthly meeting on February 6 at Damon’s Grill, a restaurant in the resort. But other club leaders balked. Nevins was a Democrat, they claimed, and GOP bylaws forbid anybody but Republicans from speaking at their meetings.
To make things kosher, Wolfe decided not to officially start the meeting until Nevins had finished speaking. After 30 minutes of idle chat, hors d’oeuvres, and cocktails, Nevins walked up to the little podium at Damon’s Grill. Then he made several remarks that should end his career as a political reporter.
First, he held up a piece of paper to the 40-or-so attendees in the room and told them it was from the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office. He had changed political parties.
“I’m a Republican,” Nevins announced to the partisan crowd. “It’s official.”
An uncomfortable, slightly stunned silence filled the room before Margaret Hostetter, a former congressional candidate and current vice president of the Davie’s GOP club, stood up and began applauding. Others followed Hostetter’s lead until Nevins was awash in cheers and a standing ovation.
Nevins’ announcement by itself was a highly questionable act by a supposedly unbiased reporter. Unprofessional and reckless are two words to describe it. But Nevins, a longtime player in the political scene who began his reporting career in South Florida 31 years ago at the old Fort Lauderdale News, was just getting warmed up. Several witnesses tell me that when a club member asked him why he left the Democratic Party, he responded, “To vote for Charlie Crist in the Republican primary.”
OK, hold up. Nevins covers the governor’s race. Now he has endorsed a candidate and proven he’s no buddy to Republican challenger Tom Gallagher or the Democratic hopefuls.
And he still wasn’t finished. As he stood up there basking in the glow of his new political brethren, he began trashing the Democratic Party, says Hostetter, who took notes during Nevins’ talk.
“He said that the Democratic Party isn’t his grandfather’s party,” says Hostetter, a massively active Republican activist. “He said it was the party of ‘no.’ No ideas. No leadership. Just more taxes. And he said that Broward County is bought and controlled by the Democratic Party and its corruption.”
Look. There’s being desperate for attention, and then there’s this.
Update: Just to clarify, I don’t have a problem with reporters being registered anythings nor disclosing that registration if asked to do so. The holding of an opinion is not a guarantee of biased reporting, and there’s only so much any employer should be able to do in terms of policing employees’ lives in their off hours. I do have a problem with this guy being invited to speak in his capacity as a reporter, ie on the job in which he is supposed to strive for objectivity, and then using that opportunity to talk political trash about people in a race he’s currently covering.