This week, incumbent RPOF chairman Blaise Ingoglia unloaded both barrels of his endorsement shotgun on Sarasota County challenger Christian Ziegler. In the first salvo fired Monday, he announced public support from more than 100 members of the Republican Executive Committee, then quickly followed with a second shot listing support from 11 congressmen or congressmen-elect. The subtext of the two announcements is obvious: Ingoglia wants Florida Republicans to percieve that he’s got the race sewn up.
But Ziegler isn’t having it. While Ingoglia made his announcements, Ziegler was busy traversing the state, meeting with committee members he thinks he can sway, regardless of whether or not their names were already on one of Ingoglia’s lists.
“Christian shouldn’t be intimidated by Blaise’s alleged endorsements,” said one member of the Republican Executive Committee (REC) whose name appears on Blaise’s endorsement list, but who declined to be identified. “When Blaise asked for my support, it was before I even knew anyone was running against him.”
Some see the battle between Ingoglia and Ziegler as a proxy war with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran on one side, and the senate and governor’s office on the other, speculating that as long as Ingoglia chairs the party, Corcoran can extend his considerable influence even further. Adding fuel to that fire are rumors of pressure being exerted by operatives in Marco Rubio‘s orbit, who are said to be making calls invoking Rubio’s name and urging support for Ingoglia. Corcoran served as Rubio’s chief of staff when he was House Speaker. Whether or not Rubio is taking sides remains unclear.
What is clear, is that it’s much too early to declare the race over.
“It’s all posturing right now,” said the REC member. “And it’s a secret ballot anyway, which means the only REC members you can trust are the ones who admit they aren’t voting for you.”
Like Ingoglia, Leslie Dougher boasted early support in the 2015 contest, too. She made a strong showing on the first ballot on election day, trailing Ingoglia by only one vote, 80-79. But on the second ballot, Ingoglia picked up 132 votes to Dougher’s 90, when two other candidates dropped out and broke heavily against the incumbent.
Here’s the email Dougher sent two months before election day:
|From: Leslie Dougher for Chair <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: November 24, 2014 at 3:05:20 PM EST
To: Leslie Dougher for Chair <email@example.com>
Subject: Announcement from Leslie DougherDear Fellow Republicans,
Today I am honored to announce the support from so many notable grassroots leaders who share the same passion of growing our party and winning elections. After such historic midterm victories, we are already gearing up for our next phase of continuing to make the Republican Party of Florida the strongest state party in the nation.
Our determination and drive was on full display as the election results came in. Despite the pundits and insiders doubting us, we showed what true grassroots activism can achieve. I look forward to repeating our successes together in our next challenge ahead.
I have great admiration and gratitude towards the warm and honest support you have shown me since announcing my intentions to run for re-election as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Thank you all for making your commitment to me. I too have a commitment to make. We are not going to stop pushing. We will not rest on our laurels. We will move forward, together, towards a better and brighter future for Florida and our nation with our Republican leaders at the helm.
In the coming days and weeks, I look forward to releasing more information about my vision for our future. Thank you again for your continued support.
Gail Alsobrook, Chairman, Gulf County
Bill Ammons, Chairman, Gadsden County
Joyce Ammons, State Committeewoman, Gadsden County
Toni Appell, State Committeewoman, Monroe County
Bob Bezick, Chairman, Madison County
Cherie Billings, Chairman, Nassau County
Joanna Bryan, State Committeewoman, Gulf County
Bill Bunting, State Committeeman, Pasco County
John Calandro, State Committeeman, Sumter County
Hannah Causseaux, State Committeewoman, Liberty County
Tammy Celeste, State Committeewoman, Osceola County
Elmer Coker, Chairman, Taylor County
Travis Coker, State Committeeman, Taylor County
Pat Coker, State Committeewoman, Taylor County
Doug Conkey, State Committeeman, Clay County
DeeDee Corbin, State Committeewoman, Nassau County
Lenny Curry, State Committeeman, Duval County
Leonard Davis, Chairman, Baker County
Dorothy Davis, Chairman, Escambia County
Bill Fletcher, State Committeeman, Walton County
Charlotte Flynt, State Committeewoman, Walton County
Greg Goebel, State Committeeman, Monroe County
Jim Guth, Chairman, Polk County
Cynthia Henderson, State Committeewoman, Leon County
Thomas Hogan, State Committeeman, Hernando County
Dona Holt, Chairman, Putnam County
Jeff Howell, State Committeeman, Leon County
Marge Hutton, State Committeewoman, Clay County
Stafford Jones, Chairman, Alachua County
Kristina Kulpa, State Committeewoman, Hendry County
Tommy Langford, Chairman, Gilchrist County
Frank Meeker, State Committeeman, Flagler County
Danny Norton, State Committeeman, Baker County
Lew Oliver, Chairman, Orange County
Amparo Oxner, Chairman, Osceola County
Betty Ramey, State Committeewoman, Gilchrist County
Mildred Russell, State Committeewoman, Alachua County
Tom Semmes, State Committeeman, Gulf County
Dan Smith, Chairman, Holmes County
Joseph Sowell, State Committeeman, Holmes County
Susan Sowell, State Committeewoman, Holmes County
Diane Spencer, State Committeewoman, Sumter County
Dana Swanson, State Committeewoman, Volusia County
Lorene Thomas, State Committeewoman, Dixie County
BryAnne White, State Committeewoman, Calhoun County
Robert Woody, State Committeeman, Alachua County