Published: Jan 15, 2011 9:36 PM EST
Updated: Jan 15, 2011 6:36 PM EST

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - The Republican Party of Florida has a new chairman.
      
Party activists elected former state Rep. Dave Bitner as their new leader Saturday. He beat party vice chair Deborah Cox-Roush in a runoff vote after failing to get a majority in the first vote of a five-way race.
      
Bitner will replace Sen. John Thrasher, who took over the party when Jim Greer resigned last February among allegations of misuse of party money. Greer has since been indicted on grand theft charges.
      
Thrasher said when he was elected that he would only serve until he could be replaced after the November election.
      
Florida Republicans had one of their best election years ever, electing candidates to governor, U.S. Senate, all three Cabinet positions and making gains in the Legislature and Congress.