Mayor Jerry Sanders retained his Republican Party endorsement last night despite a closed-door effort by some on the Central Committee to peel back its support in light of his reversal on same-sex marriage.

The county Republican Party’s leadership would not publicly divulge what was said in the private meeting — where only the party’s endorsing committee, Sanders and members of his mayoral and campaign staff were permitted. Rather, party chairman Tony Krvaric only said that “support for the mayor was overwhelmingly reaffirmed.”

But multiple sources in the meeting said, on the condition of anonymity, that a motion was made to rescind the endorsement of Sanders for next year’s mayor’s race. The results of that vote vary, depending on the source, but most say it failed by an approximate 4-to-1 margin.

The potential political implications losing the GOP endorsement were sizable.

With the party’s endorsement comes important campaign cash. With Sanders likely facing a challenge from fellow Republican Steve Francis, a wealthy businessman, the county party would significantly help the mayor’s run. An individual or organization can give an unlimited amount of money to help Sanders’ cause to the party, which can in turn spend an unlimited amount communicating — in coordination with the mayor’s official campaign — with Republican voters. The strategy frees up Sanders’ campaign to target swing voters with its campaign coffers and also allows the mayor’s backers to avoid the $320 donation limit imposed by city law on the Sanders campaign committee.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that the motion to rescind the Republican Party’s endorsement of Mayor Jerry Sanders had passed 4 to 1. It had actually failed.


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