"I think we're gonna do it." That was Blaise Ingoglia's message to Sunshine State News in Orlando nearly two years ago: assured, but cautious to come off too confident or boastful about the possibility of taking the helm of the state's Republican Party.
At the time, he was only vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida and a newly-elected state lawmaker.
But that wasn't enough for Ingoglia — he wanted to aim higher.
So he ran for chairman and pitted himself against Gov. Rick Scott's hand-picked candidate, Leslie Dougher.
The party was fresh off a series of wins -- Scott had beat out former Gov. Charlie Crist for a second term in office and Republicans held tightly onto the majority in both chambers of the Florida Legislature during the 2014 election.
Ingoglia told SSN he had lots of grassroots support for his bid to become chair at the time, and while that may have been true, there was still an air of suspense surrounding the two-day meeting at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando.
Rank-and-file members had never defied the governor and voted in another candidate instead.
Ingoglia defied the odds, winning the chairmanship and sent Dougher packing.
Now Ingoglia is back to fight for another term as chairman, riding high on huge wins all around the state.
On Monday, he officially announced his candidacy for re-election, promising to keep that same grassroots support that sent him to victory the first time at the forefront of party ambitions this time around.
"Two years ago, when I announced I was running for RPOF Chairman, I did so after talking to many of you about the importance of emphasizing the grassroots in our elections and our party,” Ingoglia wrote in an email to executive committee members around the state. “Your support launched us on an incredible journey that included a lot of lofty goals and expectations.”
Ingoglia flaunted the endorsements of 113 state committee members he says will support him for another two-year term. Among the names are 41 of the 67 county chairs. A total of 222 votes are up for grabs at the chairman selection Jan. 15.
With their support and with his direction, Ingoglia has promised he will deliver more success to the GOP.
"We're standing together as we get ready for a 2018 cycle that will determine Florida’s future for years to come," he wrote.
Ingoglia isn't the only one with his eyes on the prize, though.
Another candidate has also thrown his name in the ring for chairmanship. Sarasota County committeeman Christian Ziegler announced he would run for the job earlier this month.
Ziegler claimed close ties with the Trump campaign team and with local leaders as part of his pitch to become the next RPOF chair.
"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," Ziegler said earlier this month.
Outgoing Chairwoman of the Flagler County Republican Party Anne-Marie Shaffer said Ziegler would bring a “revitalization” to the party and would be able to maintain the edge the Trump campaign brought to Florida.
“Christian Ziegler is a true leader,” she wrote. “[The] Republican Party of Sarasota is renowned (and envied) in Florida for its success and Christian has been at the heart of it the whole way.”
Ziegler is seen by many to be a “Scott Republican,” with close ties to the governor. Should he be successful in his run for the position, he could shift the party back into favor with the governor.
Since Ingoglia took over, Scott and Senate Republicans have fundraised separately from the party, but some say Ziegler heading the party could mend the wounds between the two.
As for the list of endorsements, Ziegler told the Tampa Bay Times he isn’t fazed -- and anything, including vote changes -- could happen before January.
“A good percentage of that list will be voting for me down the road,” Ziegler said.