JACKSONVILLE, FL – In an effort to make gains with GOP leadership, the state’s largest firefighters union ousted its incumbent president during a recent meeting in Daytona Beach.
By a roughly three-to-one vote, the Florida Professional Firefighters voted out Gary Rainey, who had served as president for three years, and elected Jim Tolley, who had served as the group’s governmental affairs director.
“Gary is a true labor guy, his heart is there. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat,” Tolley said. “It was very difficult to work with the leadership when we are always giving them a hard time.”
Rainey did not return a Thursday afternoon call seeking comment.
Tolley said it was a nod to the Tallahassee’s political reality: Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion.
The group’s roughly 23,000 members made the vote earlier this month during its annual meeting at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.
Tolley said it was difficult running against Rainey because he “loves him like a brother.”
“Thankfully there were only two candidates, so there was not a lot of negative stuff,” he said.
The Florida Professional Firefighters PAC gave just over $1 million in campaign contributions during the 2012 election cycle. Prior to Rainey, the organization’s president had been Bob Carver for three-decades.