For much of its statehood prior to 1920, Florida was an Old South, Dixiecrat state where a Republican winning an election was about as common as a hard-freeze warning.

Readers: On May 11, 1920, several local citizens gathered in the county courthouse in West Palm Beach, and the Palm Beach Republican Club was born.


What's the big deal, you say? Keep in mind that, for much of its statehood, Florida was an Old South, Dixiecrat state where a Republican winning an election was about as common as a hard-freeze warning.


That was the case in 1920. But the local Republicans were undaunted. Nearly 200 signed up for the new club.


>>READ MORE: Eliot Kleinberg's Post Time columns on Palm Beach County history


At the organizational meeting, a Palm Beach Post article noted Chairman Lorenzo Garland Biggers said that the club's goals were to make local government more efficient and to break the Democrats' "tyranny" in local and state elections and build a "strong opposing party." It worked in the short run; Biggers was elected West Palm Beach mayor in 1922 and 1923.


Harvey G. Geer, who would be instrumental in the formation of the Lake Worth Inlet District and who led the Palm Beach Town Council, spoke at the club's organizational meeting of the "critical state of the nation and the years of democratic misrule." He likely was referring to Democrat Woodrow Wilson's eight years in office. Geer would get his wish as well: the next three presidents — Harding, Coolidge and Hoover — would be from the GOP.


The club discussed whether the GOP’s "colored wing" would be let in. Recall that Jim Crow was firmly in place in Florida. And that was bipartisan. The story said that, even as much of the South was fighting to keep blacks disenfranchised, Palm Beach County had "many" black voters that were "one-hundred percent" Republican.


The post-World War II boom brought Northerners, Midwesterners and immigrants, and their diverse politics, and broke the Democratic lock.


>>MORE NEIGHBORHOOD POST: Know what’s going on in your community


As of Sept. 30, 2019, the state has 4.7 million Republicans, 4.9 million Democrats, 140,061 members of smaller parties, and 3.6 million with no party affiliation.


Palm Beach County still is majority Democrat. As of late November 2019, of nearly a million registered voters, 404,290 were Democrats; 271,595 Republicans; and 289,324 "other," meaning smaller parties or no party.


Post Time appears in print every Thursday in Neighborhood Post. Submit your questions to Post Time, The Palm Beach Post, 2751 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Include your full name and hometown. Call 561-820-4418. EK@pbpost.com. Sorry; no personal replies.