Published: Aug 31, 2011 7:59 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (AP) - Republican Party of Florida Chairman Dave Bitner is stepping down as he continues to battle Lou Gehrig's disease.
Bitner is expected to formally announce his resignation during a Wednesday conference call with party officials, a Republican Party source said. The source requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it.
The former state legislator will ask that current vice chairman Lenny Curry be selected next month to replace him.
Bitner's resignation is coming just weeks before the high-profile Presidency 5 event in Orlando that will feature a debate among Republican presidential candidates as well as a straw poll.
Bitner found out in April that he had he contracted amyotrophic (ah-MY'-oh-troh-fik) lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It progressively attacks the brain and spine and leads to complete paralysis and eventually death.

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