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Tom Slade a master politician and chairman of Florida Republican Party is dead

Few people were as quotable at Tom Slade. Few laughed as readily. Few fought as hard. Few did more to build the Florida Republican Party.

Tom Slade died today of heart failure. He was 78.

Mr. Slade was party chairman from 1993 to 1999. During that time he took a moribound political party infused it dollars, staff and technology to make it a formidable challenger to the Democratic Party. The apparatus he put in place helped elect Jeb Bush governor in 1998, and helped lead to the GOP taking over the state Cabinet, and the Florida legislature. Slade

Reporters loved him for willingness to call at he saw it - even if it ticked off his fellow Republicans.

Asked about Florida Governor Rick Scott's job performance, Mr. Slade said. "Rick Scott doesn't seem to have any political skills at all. I'd give him a 'B' for governing. I'd give him an 'A' for strangeness." 

When former Florida Governor Charlie Crist left the Republican Party and became a Democrat Mr. Slade said, "He's deader than the day before yesterday." 

Mr. Slade also was troubled about today's politics.

"It is both disgusting and heartbreaking to see our guys on our side of the aisle conducting themselves in a dishonorable fashion. We've reached the point where both parties are chasing the dollar bill so damned hard, they don't let their constituents get in the way of the search." 

More about Mr. Slade in the obiturary below.

(Jacksonville, Fla.) -- Tom Slade, former Florida State Senator and State Representative and perhaps best known for his leadership as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida from 1993-1999, passed away this (morning/evening) at Orange Park Medical Center following heart failure last week. Thomas H. Slade, Jr. was 78.

 Tom Slade’s political career began in 1962 when he was elected to the State House of Representatives. He was elected to the State Senate in 1966. While seeking the Cabinet office of State Treasurer in 1970, Slade survived a plane crash at the Tallahassee Regional Airport with C.W. Bill Young, who was seeking the Congressional seat that Young served in until his own passing last year.

 A successful Jacksonville businessman, Slade served as Chairman of the Florida Tax and Budget Commission in 1990 – a service that brought him back to the political arena, and he was encouraged to run for Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida in 1993.

As of his election that January, Florida’s Governor’s Mansion, State Cabinet, State House were all controlled by Democrats, with the State Senate in a 20-20 tie.  Slade focused on building the Party’s messaging, candidate recruiting, fundraising and campaign training, which by the end of his three terms following the 1998 elections, Slade had led Florida Republicans to statewide victories with the election of Governor Jeb Bush and Republican control and leadership of the Florida Senate, State House, the Cabinet, and a large majority in the Florida Congressional Delegation.

 Slade offered his candidacy as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1999, and following that unsuccessful bid, formed Tidewater Consulting, a governmental relations and political consulting firm with offices in Tallahassee.

A Florida resident since the age of ten, Tom was raised in the small Clay county community of Kingsley Lake, where he attended public schools in Starke.  After graduating in 1957, from Southern Tech, where he served as student body president, he owned and operated several L.P. gas companies in northeast Florida.

 In 1962, at age 25, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives as a Democrat from Duval County. After changing his party affiliation to Republican in 1964, and waiting the then-mandatory two years, he was elected to the Florida Senate, where he served until 1970, when he became the Republican nominee for State Treasurer.

During the mid-1980’s, Tom ran the successful campaigns in northeast Florida for Bob Martinez, George Bush and Connie Mack.  He was one of seven Floridians who served on the Personnel and Appointment Advisory Committee for the Bush Administration.  Tom was elected Vice-Chairman of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission in 1990.  

Details of services for Tom Slade are pending and will be released in accordance with the wishes of the Slade family.


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