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***10:58am – Blaise wins 152 – 76.
We’ll have him LIVE on Facebook as soon as he’s available. Blaise is going to be tied up with downballot elections for the foreseeable future, so we’ll catch him on Facebook LIVE at the next available opportunity. No more updates from this page today, thanks for checking in. Apparently there were three additional eligible votes, but it’s unclear where they came from. It matters little. Ingoglia’s win is impressive, showing that Republicans are comfortable with the current state of the party with or without Governor Rick Scott.
***10:45am – taking a short break while we complete the vote tally. A few people are milling about. Good time to say that this is what politics is all about. Two candidates putting everything they have on the line for a set of ideas. Politics is not for the feignt of heart. It’s a zero-sum game. Someone wins, someone loses. There is no second place. You have to admire the courage and dedication of both of these candidates who put themselves out there for the sake of advancing a set of principles.
***10:39am – We will now be entertained by Senator Rubio while they count.
Says the US Senate will be in session 5-6 days a week for the next several months. Also reports the President-elect has a stack of executive orders he plans to repeal. Applause.
House has passed the first step of the full repeal of ObamaCare. President-elect has announced a replacement plan.
Get ready for TrumpCare [my words, not the Senator’s].
Rubio now says we’ll also have a nominee to the US Supreme Court. “These are the consequences of winning an election.”
Rubio wraps up to a standing ovation.
***10:38am – Ballots are now being marked and collected in buckets. Counting will begin momentarily.
***10:29am – Ingoglia’s turn. Starts with a simple, “Hi guys. How are you?” The crowd is caught a bit off guard but Ingoglia keeps moving. His delivery is more relaxed, more conversational. He’s highlighting “grass roots,” and what that means.
He’s offering some anecdotal evidence that he is a full-time chairman, with stories about late nights on the road, in the Panhandle, knowing he’s going to lose an hour on the drive.
Now Ingoglia has shifted into high gear…soaring rhetoric about 2016 results. “We delivered.” And he’s firing right back at any naysaying that the RPOF didn’t do anything. “We just saved the Supreme Court.” Applause.
Now he’s rattling off a list of accomplishments in a rousing delivery – “we are not done!”
“What we need to do is run up the score.” Ingoglia arguing now to keep the starters on the field. “If we do it, mark my words, we will cripple the Democratic Party for a generation.”
“I’m just a quarterback of a really good grassroots team. And you should always keep the team together after you win the Superbowl.”
“You can build a dynasty.”
He asks for their vote, some are standing and applauding. Speech complete. The room feels like it belongs to Ingoglia now. We’ll find out in a few minutes.
***10:25am – Ziegler says there are two clearly different visions for the party. Highlights the rise of PACs and outside groups that are threatening the influence of the party.
The party deserves a “full-time chairman.” Must be available 24-7 to get your counties the answers and resources.
Ziegler’s delivery is strong. He’s young, but confident, and closes with a line about he’s looking for the opportunity to “serve you.”
***10:22am – Speech focusing on direction of party going forward, not on results of 2016. Points out lack of staff and financial resources, lack of highest ranking elected leader [Scott] “not having a seat at the table.”
Ziegler takes a couple of swipes at the level of support RPOF was able to provide counties during 2016, then quickly pivots back to 2018. A line about taking down Bill Nelson draws widespread applause.
***10:21am – Ziegler has now taken the podium to deliver his speech. Some minor parliamentary procedures taking place. Ziegerl retakes the mic.
***10:16am – Joe Budd has risen to nominate Christian Ziegler. Budd is ticking down a list of all the reasons – including a strong relationship with Governor Rick Scott – and he’s now taking a shot at Ingoglia’s strength – his 2016 performance. Budd looking ahead to 2018, says “we need a chairman who can raise funds every day of the year without restrictions.” Thanks Ingoglia for his service. Strong speech focused on uniting the party.
That’s really what this race boils down to: if you support Blaise, it’s a vote of confidence in the job he did in 2016 and in the belief he’ll continue that into 2018. If you support Ziegler, it’s because you want to unite the party and bring the full power of the governor and his fundraising back into the tent.
Ziegler is now getting a second to the motion.
***10:15 – Senator Marco Rubio has risen to deliver the second on behalf of Ingoglia. And he just cracked a joke about Blaise’s weight over the past 10 years… “I’m proud to second the nomination,” he concluded.
Blaise now asking for other nominations.
***10:11am – Ingoglia has now handed over the gavel to Vice-Chairman Joe Gruters (pictured below), who has opened the floor to nominations for chairman.
Blaise has now been nominated, and we are awaiting completion of the nominator’s speech before seeking a second to make his candidacy official. “Blaise’s commitment to [RPOF] runs deep,” she says, before pointing out the obligatory election results, which is perhaps the strongest nomination.
***10:03am – in a few minutes, the actual nominations for each candidate will begin. There is a chance additional candidates could be nominated. Each nominated candidate will receive 10 minutes for “speechifyin'” and then the vote will commence. We are still a few minutes away from the beginning of that process.
Members have just voted to adopt the election procedures. There are motions to adjust or amend the agenda. Minor parliamentary procedures now happening.
***9:59am – Roll call complete. There is a quorum with 225 members present. That means the number of votes either candidate must carry to win is 113 votes. Ingoglia has instructed members to open the envelopes containing their ballots, of which each envelope contains 18 ballots for all of the different races, including a first, second and third ballot for chairman. Members are now counting their ballots, to verify they have been issued the appropriate number.
***9:47am – Roll call continues as every eligible voter’s name is called to get a total vote count.
Prior to the start of festitvities, I spoke briefly with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and asked if he’d be willing to talk about the RPOF’s role in the upcoming 2018 election cycle, but he deftly sidestepped the request and pointed me in the direction of Representative Jose Oliva, who, as the Republican speaker-to-be after 2018, will be largely responsible for running House elections. Conveniently, Corcoran noted with a smile that Oliva couldn’t make it.
I will be interviewing the winner of today’s vote, both Ingoglia and Ziegerl have committed to going on Facebook LIVE, but only on the condition that they win. Neither will be in the mood to talk if they lose…
***9:37am – Invocation out of the way, Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem have been recited. Baise Ingoglia, as current chairman, is reading the rules to the committee members. They are now taking roll call and issuing ballots to eligible voters. Governor Scott’s name was called but is not here.
Many of Ingoglia’s congressional delegation touted in his endorsement list did not make it in. Senator Rubio is here.
***9:25am, Saturday January 14th – Here we go. Blaise Ingoglia now taking the podium, urging everyone to quiet down and take their seats. Previous conversation with Ingoglia just a few minutes ago upped the turnout prediction to around 230 total votes, meaning the number to win is now 116.
***9:37pm – The Blaise Ingoglia for Chairman reception was held in a smaller room, no live band, but it was nearly full. Several people were actively engaged in comparing crowd sizes, but it appeared to me that a large number of people were drifting back and forth between both events – it’s impossible to get any kind of read on who might win this thing based on crowd size. I spoke with Chairman Ingoglia and he made a whip count prediction that I’ll simply describe as “confident” without getting into the actual numbers until tomorrow. Turnout may be slightly lower than 2015, so judging from the projected total vote universe, tomorrow’s winner will need about 110 votes to carry the day. We’ll revise that figure tomorrow morning once we know exactly how many people are actually present and eligible to cast a vote.
LIVE ON FACEBOOK:
***9:07pm – Chairman’s reception just wrapped up, now on to two competing receptions hosted respectively by the two opposing candidates.
Ziegler’s first: he’s got The Karen and Jimmy Band, playing live music that has started to draw a crowd. Ziegler is making the rounds with his wife, says he’s feeling good. “I’m gonna win,” he told me just minutes ago.
***7:54pm – There was a brief rumor that Gov. Rick Scott might show up but he’s not on the full list of confirmed elected attendees. Here’s the full list as of now:
Senator Marco Rubio
CFO Jeff Atwater
LG Carlos Lopez-Cantera
Congressman Matt Gaetz
Congressman Neal Dunn
Speaker Richard Corcoran
Senate President Joe Negron
Rep. La Rosa
***7:46pm – RPOF press office has confirmed two members of the Florida Congressional Delegation will attend tomorrow. Ingoglia previously said he expected the majority of his 11-name congressional delegation endorsement list to show up. The two confirmed attendees are Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Neal Dunn.
This doesn’t mean other members won’t show for Blaise as promised, it just means they have not RSVP’d. Senator Marco Rubio has RSVP’d, as well as Jeff Atwater.
***7:06pm – all official business for the day has concluded, now RPOF members and guests are splitting up and grabbing dinner, socializing, and getting ready for a triple-header of social receptions from 7:30pm until 10pm tonight…and that’s where much of the remaining politicking will get done. We’ll also try to broadcast some interviews on Facebook LIVE, so stay tuned.
***5:17pm – Spoke with several voting members huddled up in the corner of the hall waiting for the 6pm chairman’s caucus to begin, they expressed some dismay about some sort of expenditure / reimbursement list that is being circulated among members, but they all politely declined to discuss it and wouldn’t say whether they were bothered by the document’s contents, or by the fact that it was being circulated at all. I asked for a peek at the document and they pointed me to another member that I’m trying to track down now…more updates as I get them.
***4:44pm – Christian Ziegler just popped out of one caucus room, working a crowd from Congressional District 1 (Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton County). A few minutes later, Blaise Ingoglia came trucking down the hall in the opposite direction, just in time to catch potential voting members from CD 5, which includes Baker, Duval, Columbia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon and Madison counties.
***4:39pm – My old Republican friends are not impressed by my newly minted RPOF press credentials. For a moment, they see a familiar face, they approach with a broad smile, then they read the badge. The smile melts and you can see their eyes glass over, unsure if they should talk to a “reporter.”
LIVE FROM THE ROSEN CENTRE!
***4:23pm – Over the next 18 hours, I’ll be live-blogging the RPOF annual meeting from the Rosen Centre to provide ongoing coverage of the chairman’s race. Right now, individual county caucuses are meeting and voting on their own leadership ahead of the statewide chairman’s vote tomorrow morning.