Republican Party of Florida chairman Blaise Ingoglia continues to rack up the endorsements for a second bid at party chair, reeling in the support of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday, but Ingoglia's opponent, Christian Ziegler, says to not count him out just yet.
"The Republican Party's performance in Florida under Blaise's leadership speaks for itself,” said Rubio in the endorsement, praising Ingoglia’s role as party chair during a difficult election season.
“We won tough races across the board in the nation's biggest swing state, and Blaise's leadership in the GOP's get-out-the-vote ground operation this past year was decisive,” Rubio continued. “He has worked tirelessly the past two years traveling the state, meeting with activists, and growing our party. Blaise has my full support for reelection as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida."
Rubio, who handily won his Senate reelection bid, has seen a second chance in Florida politics after dropping out of the GOP presidential primary earlier this year.
His support comes on the heels of an endorsement earlier in the week from President-Elect Donald Trump’s Florida campaign manager, Susie Wiles.
Ingoglia has continued to source support from elected officials like Republican congressmen who have heaped on the praise for Ingoglia. The Spring Hill state representative also announced 113 state committee chairs who supported his bid for reelection when he made his public announcement last month.
Ingoglia is running against Sarasota Republican committeeman Christian Ziegler, who has campaigned on bringing harmony back to the RPOF should members pick him for the job.
When Ingoglia took the reins of the party in 2015, he knocked Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-selected candidate, Leslie Dougher, out of the race when members threw her out of the job in favor of Ingoglia, who had quietly collected support behind the scenes. The win caused a cascade of splits in the party, with Scott and Senate Republicans withdrawing their fundraising from the party.
Many have counted Ziegler out and contend Ingoglia is a shoe-in for the position, but Ziegler disagrees, saying he is the dark horse nominee in this election.
On Wednesday, he told Sunshine State News he had been traveling the state for over a week, meeting individually with committee members.
He said he’s listening to their stories, hearing their concerns and trying to win their votes.
“I’m going into these homes, I’m sitting across from them,” he said. “I’m going face-to-face, and I’m going grassroots...I’m putting out my plan for the future.”
Ingoglia, he said, was more focused on the past and might have time management issues with his job as a state representative while juggling the roles of being a party official.
The endorsements, Ziegler said, don’t scare him.
“His previous opponent dropped endorsements every week,” he told SSN. “He’s doing the style that lost last time, which to me, doesn’t make much sense.”
Indeed, Dougher did flex her endorsements over Ingoglia before he wiped her out in 2015, especially the endorsements of former party chairs who supported her bid.
Team Trump also appears to be divided over who would be a better chairman for the party. Chief Florida strategist Karen Giorno said she was willing to go to bat for Ziegler over Ingoglia, saying the 33 year-old Sarasota Republican was a much more beneficial player in Trump’s Florida campaign than Ingoglia.
“He’s been one of the most influential and key political characters from the beginning,” Giorno told Sunshine State News.
Ziegler said he has been using the same grassroots strategy which led Ingoglia to victory in 2015, getting to know members on a more intricate level than ever before.
“This campaign is eye opening and I’m really understanding my colleagues in a way I never had...I’m counting my numbers and I’m feeling pretty good,” he said.