It's official: Leslie Dougher will be replacing Lenny Curry as the new chair of the Republican Party of Florida. Dougher was elected to the position by a vote of 106-69 at the party's quarterly meeting on Saturday in Tampa.
Over 170 members of the State Executive Committee cast their votes for Currys replacement. Curry, who became chair in September 2011, resigned at the end of April to possibly pursue a mayoral bid in Jacksonville.
Dougher, a real estate agent who serves as the chair of the RPOF's chairman caucus, was widely speculated to be a front-runner for the position. Republican insiders told Sunshine State News earlier this week that the Clay County GOP chairwoman was virtually a shoe-in to take over as chair.
But her nomination did not go unopposed. Martin County GOP Chair Eric Miller was also nominated for chair. Insiders speculated that the Martin County GOP would be a hotspot for opposition to Doughers nomination, which ultimately proved true at Saturdays meeting.
Former state representative and Manatee County State Committeewoman Peggy Simone told Sunshine State News that while shes not against Dougher, she thinks Miller could have offered more to the party.
I just think [Eric] would bring more to the office business experience and possibly political experience than Leslie has, she said.
Lake County State Committeewoman Patricia Sullivan said she thinks the votes for Miller symbolize a real need to get back in touch with certain Republican voters.
I think a lot of people recognize that to re-engage those Republican voters who sat out in the last presidential election ... that we have to show them that the RPOF is going to be a voice of the people, she told SSN. Those 69 votes, thats from the bottom up."
Dougher reeled in support from high-profile party members, including House Speaker Will Weatherford and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, both of whom voiced their approval for Dougher early on in the process.
Thrasher, who nominated Dougher, said shed be a good candidate to take the party forward in the coming months.
She will be a good steward of the Republican Party of Florida for the next four months, he said.
Despite the close vote between the two candidates, the party seemed mostly focused on one priority: getting Gov. Rick Scott re-elected in November.
What matters today is that we have a smooth transition, Curry told attendees at the meeting, adding that even as he moves on, re-electing the governor would remain his first priority.
Dougher's term will run to January 2015.