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A Republican party

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Flanked by several local Republican politicos, Orlando City Commissioner Betty Wyman announced Monday that she was abandoning her Democratic roots in favor of the Grand Old Party. The cheerleading came from Mayor Glenda Hood and Chairman Mel Martinez, who both praised Wyman for giving the Republicans a 4-3 advantage on the City Council -- an advantage they currently have as well on the Orange County Commission, although both are drawn from supposedly nonpartisan elections.

But the sharp divisions in the local GOP were brewing below the surface. For instance, when County Commissioner Bob Freeman praised Wyman for adhering to her constituent's desires in deep-sixing light rail, the project's biggest champion, Hood, was standing just a few feet away. And radio talk-show host Doug Guetzloe continues to plot a takeover of the county Republican Executive Committee from Lew Oliver, who just a few weeks ago pushed to remove Guetzloe from the committee after Guetzloe backed Democrat Patty Sheehan for the City Council over Hood supporter -- and Republican -- Bill Bagley.

Wyman's decision probably was an easy one, considering the Democratic Party had endorsed her opponent, Belinda Ortiz, in the recent election.


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