Even though he has yet to win a seat in the Legislature, Blaise Ingoglia -- despite a glitch on his resume going in -- is poised to be one of the leading Republicans in the Florida House and should be a strong voice for conservatives in Tallahassee.
After starting a successful real estate career, Ingoglia became politically active, serving as the vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) -- but he also remained a favorite of conservatives. Running his popular Government Gone Wild videos about the need to cut government spending, Ingoglia has the support of the tea party and is a popular speaker for conservative groups throughout Florida.
With Rob Schenck facing term limits in 2014, Ingoglia is a heavy favorite to replace him in representing Hernando County in the House. He got an early start in the race, consequently has no opponents yet. Republicans from across the state are lining up behind him, offering their endorsements.
Ingoglia is well-positioned to be one of the most prominent freshmen in the House in early 2015. He is a strong conservative who is articulate and can make a convincing case for his ideals and positions.
But that doesnt mean he will automatically be a contender to become speaker after the 2020 elections despite, being uniquely on good terms with both the GOP establishment and the tea party. There have been questions about Ingoglias sales tactics and news broke earlier this year that he owed almost $12,000 in back taxes.
Republicans in the House can be excused if they dont want another leader whose ethics are constantly under question. Even as the memory of Ray Sansoms short time as House speaker fades, the example of Chris Dorworth remains fresh. After a series of questions about his ethics, voters tossed Dorworth out of office last year, even though he was scheduled to become House speaker in 2014. Instead of Dorworth leading the House, Steve Crisafulli will be speaker, a reminder to new House members, including probably Ingoglia, about how ethics questions can sink a political career.
As long as nothing else comes out, Ingoglia should be fine in terms of winning the seat and of moving up the ladder in the Florida House, even if the speakers gavel is out of reach. Ingoglia has a knack for scoring points with conservative arguments and should be a favorite of various GOP groups. With one foot in the RPOF and the other the tea party, Ingoglia is a good bet to play a major role in the Republican caucus if, as expected, he is elected next year.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.