Cara  Pavalock, secretary of the Broward Republican Party.

Cara Pavalock, secretary of the Broward Republican Party.wears red at the June 24 meeting of the party to show her support for Republicans who expressed support for same-sex marriage. (Photo by Anthony Man/Sun Sentinel) (Anthony Man/Sun Sentinel / June 23, 2013)

After spending much of 2013 as a pinata for tea party Republicans, a symbol of free speech to others, and a champion for moderates, Cara Pavalock has resigned as secretary of the Broward Republican Party.

Her departure was confirmed by party Chairman Tom Truex.

He said she’s returned to her home state of Connecticut. “That’s where her family is. I guess instead of splitting her time, she’s going to be up in Connecticut.”

Pavalock, 37, was elected secretary of the Broward Republican Party in December 2012. In November 2012, she lost a campaign for state House of Representatives to Democrat Katie Edwards, who took 67 percent of the vote to Pavalock’s 33 percent.


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The party secretary’s job, which involves tasks such as taking minutes of meetings and the logistics of new party members, isn’t glamorous and normally doesn’t attract headlines.

But that changed for Pavalock last June.

On June 23, a Sun Sentinel article with the headline, “As society changes, more Republicans supporting gay marriage,” examined the issue in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage later that week.

Pavalock, who wasn’t quoted in that article, sent an email to Republicans urging them to wear red to the June 24 monthly meeting of the county Republican Party to show support for party members who said they supported same-sex marriage.

“I wanted to let them know that there are people behind them and support them," Pavalock said at the time. "They stuck their necks out and stood up for their beliefs, and that's what I'm proud of."

That ignited a firestorm of controversy that consumed hours of meeting time during the party’s monthly gatherings in the second half of 2013.

Republican Committeewoman Danita Kilcullen, co-founder of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, and Committeeman Ed Bender, also active in the Fort Lauderdale tea party group, unleashed a stream of criticism directed at Pavalock. In July they wore t-shirts with part of the national party platform printed on them under the headline “Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage."

In October, after a drawn out, often contentious debate, Republican committeemen and committeewoman killed an effort aimed at removing Pavalock for what some members regarded as an egregious offense: a written statement supporting Republicans who said publicly they favor same-sex marriage.

In November, when it was time for the secretary's report, she put off the routine discussion of the previous meeting's minutes.

She hadn’t publicly engaged with her critics until then. "As Republicans, we hold the Constitution sacred and the right to say what we believe is the first and foremost amendment in that sacred document," she said. Even if Republicans disagree with each other's views, "as Republicans we must support their right to say it."

Between 150 and 175 people were on hand when she delivered her remarks. Many applauded and a dozen or so Republicans stood to show their support for Pavalock – including Truex and the elected state committeeman, Ryan Anderson.

Pavalock and Truex said the party should devote its time to winning elections, not infighting. But Bender said there were more important things than the talk of not fighting. "I am here to see the rule of law followed, and nothing else," Bender said. "It still isn't done. I promise."

Truex said Tuesday he didn’t know if the controversy contributed to Pavalock’s decision. He said she’d been splitting her time between Florida and Connecticut.

“I know the reason she gave us and I know it’s true. I know when I call her a lot of times she’s in Connecticut. I know she’s working as an attorney up there,” he said. “It’s not a made up reason. It is a legitimate reason.”

Pavalock could not be reached for comment Tuesday either via her cell phone, which has a Connecticut area code, or by email.

The county’s committeemen and committeewomen who make up the Broward Republican Executive Committee will elect a new secretary on Jan. 27, Truex said.

“The job is like all those positions on the board. It is often times a lot of work, so it wouldn’t be a job for everyone. It is a commitment,” Truex said.