In an email obtained by The Capitolist, Sarasota Republican and State Committeeman Christian Ziegler today told Republican Party county chairs and state committeemen and women of his plans to run for Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. That post is currently held by State Representative Blaise Ingoglia, who is up for re-election to the post on January 14th, 2017.
In response to Ziegler’s surprise announcement, Ingoglia posted a message on Facebook confirming he plans to run again for the chairmanship.
“In 2014, when I originally announced my candidacy for Chairman, I did so promising much needed reforms and focusing on delivering our 29 electoral votes to our Republican nominee,” Ingoglia said. “We not only delivered on our promises, we delivered historic wins for Senator Marco Rubio, our Congressional delegation, our Florida legislature, and delivered by winning the State of Florida for the first time since 2004 for now President-elect Donald Trump.”
Ingoglia’s term in office at RPOF has been somewhat controversial because he also serves as an elected official in the Florida House of Representatives. In the lead up to Ingoglia’s successful run for the chairmanship, Governor Rick Scott and other top Republicans had backed a different candidate, Leslie Dougher. When Ingoglia prevailed, Scott stopped all fundraising efforts for RPOF, and Florida Senate Republicans withdrew $800,000 from RPOF accounts on the day Ingoglia was elected.
Fundraising has remained a challenge for the state party since that time, but Ingoglia made due with the resources he had. Despite the reduction in resources, Republicans trounced Democrats across the state this past election cycle. Earlier this week, when President-elect Donald Trump named RNC chairman Reince Priebus to be his chief of staff, a news outlet in Ingoglia’s home media market mentioned rumors that he might run for the national job. That rumor now appears to be false, in light of Ingoglia’s statement today.
In Ziegler’s announcement, he takes direct aim at Ingoglia’s double duty as RPOF chair and state representative.
“I believe we must be an independent-yet-unified Republican Party of Florida, with a Chairman whose sole focus is strengthening the Party within the most important political state in the union,” Ziegler said in the announcement. “I will make this my full-time mission.”
Ziegler was an early backer of Donald Trump, along with RPOF Vice-Chairman Joe Gruters. On hearing the news, Gruters praised both Ziegler and Ingoglia.
“It will be a good race. On one hand it is hard to run against a Chairman who delivers and 2016 was a year where Republicans dominated in Florida, but on the other hand, 2018 is not going to be easy as we have a Governor’s race and all three cabinet members up, and the need to be united and have a full time Chairman would be invaluable.”
Here is the complete announcement email from Ziegler:
A pivotal time for our party
Last week, we celebrated an election victory that both the media and establishment had written off as impossible. They did everything they could to deliver a victory for Hillary Clinton. And they failed.
Under your leadership, the grassroots here in Florida did not cave in to Democrats’ attempts to discredit, discourage and confuse. They stood up and worked to register voters, make calls, knock on doors, chase absentee ballots…and get out the vote for now President-elect Donald Trump. This historic victory in Florida would not have been possible without your commitment and work at the local level.
As we turn the page from the election, we have a lot of work to do over the next two years to ensure victory in 2018 — work that takes focus and resources. In addition to supporting the Trump Administration, we will need to strengthen our Republican Party of Florida to send an ally to the U.S. Senate who will work alongside our great Senator, Marco Rubio. We will need to replace our term-limited Governor and the entire Cabinet, in addition to protecting majorities in the State Senate and State House of Representatives. And we will need to win the many local races across our great state.
To help generate the momentum, unity and resources we need to accomplish this, I am excited to announce my candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and ask for your support.
I am driven to do so with passion and purpose:
I look forward to spending the next couple of months meeting with each one of you and hearing your feedback and recommendations, in addition to sharing more on my plans for the Republican Party of Florida. In the meantime, my door is always open and I encourage you to contact me directly by calling me on my cell: 202.731.7213 or email: [email protected].
This is an exciting yet pivotal time as we launch into an era of new leadership. But we cannot rest on our laurels. With your support and hard work, I know we will unify and strengthen the Republican Party of Florida.
Candidate for RPOF Chairman