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PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Sharff quits post to back Crist

As expected, lifelong Republican Paul Sharff on Thursday resigned as the Florida GOP state committeeman for Manatee County so he could publicly support Crist.

Sharff, who on Wednesday told the Bradenton Herald he would quit his party post, said in a statement he had “mixed emotions,” but “it is a joy that I will now help elect the next Republican senator from Florida running on the independent ticket, our great Gov. Charlie Crist.”

“Although this is a controversial decision for some, it is by far the best thing for the people of Florida,” Sharff said. “In these times of political unrest, the people of Florida need and deserve a representative in Washington that is not just all about politics. We need someone who is all about the people. That person is Charlie Crist.”

According to the Republican Party’s constitution, it will be up to the Manatee County executive committee to name a replacement for Sharff on the state committee.

Other local Republican leaders were far less effusive than Sharff about Crist’s decision to run as an independent.

“As a Republican, I wish he wouldn’t,” said Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore. “But I don’t think Gov. Crist is what Republicans want as a senator.”

Commission Chairwoman Donna Hayes said she was happy the governor finally made his decision.

“Now the other candidates know where to focus,” she said, “and the Republican Party, both state and local, can put their efforts to winning the election.”

Hayes, who served as chair of the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee before being elected to the commission, said she expects all Republicans to support the GOP candidate in the general election.