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Just miles from one another, Republicans and Democrats will pick new leaders


The Republican and Democratic parties in Florida literally won’t be that far apart when both select new leaders next week in the same city and in a hotel run by the same company.

Next Saturday, as Republican activists gather at the Rosen Centre in Orlando to choose among three potential leaders, the state Democratic Party will be meeting about 2 miles away to choose their new leader from a group of five candidates at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.

On the Republican side, current chairman Blaise Ingoglia, from Hernando County, is fending off challenges from Sarasota Republican Christian Ziegler and Lafayette County Republican Alan Levy. The winner will get a post that pays $115,000 a year.

On the Democratic side, Miami developer Stephen Bittel, Hillsborough activist Alan Clendenin, former state Sen. Dwight Bullard, Duval County's Lisa King and Osceola’s Democratic chair Leah Carius are all battling to replace current chair Allison Tant. The position pays $100,000 a year.

Republicans set their date first. State Democrats said the tried to find a different date so they would not be on the same day, but ultimately Jan. 14 was the best date to work with.