August 04, 2015

Florida GOP reschedules 'Sunshine Summit' for after redistricting special session

via @learyreports

Presidential candidates are being summoned to a November "Sunshine Summit" put on by the Republican Party of Florida.

The event, which will not feature a straw poll, had been scheduled for October. But organizers had a mess on their hands because the Legislature is going into special session Oct. 19-Nov. 6 to redraw state Senate districts. RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia is also a state representative and lawmakers are prohibited from fundraising during session.

Now, the summit will be held Nov. 13-14 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Former Vice President Dick Cheney will headline a dinner on Nov. 12, the party announced.

"The Sunshine Summit is a unique opportunity and event where presidential candidates will share their vision for the nation with the more than 2,500 expected activists and grassroots leaders in one-of-most influential primary and general election swing states," Ingoglia said.

Organizers had already said they would scrap a straw poll (Herman Cain, anyone?). "We thought long and hard about it," said party spokesman Wadi Gaitan. "We have seen a movement away from the straw poll (Iowa is a recent example) and decided not to include one in this event. Candidates can focus on meeting and speaking with the grassroots without having to concentrate on a straw poll."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Florida GOP struggling to raise campaign cash

via @JeremySWallace

This should be a time for the Republican Party of Florida to rake in the dollars.

It controls the political agenda with a Republican in the governor’s mansion, two party favorite sons in contention for the White House and commanding majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

Instead, the state party is in the middle of its worst fundraising stretch in six years amid growing disunity within the GOP ranks and donors forsaking the party to instead put their money into the political action committees of favored candidates.

Between April and June, the RPOF raised just $1.9 million — marking the lowest fundraising quarter for the state’s dominant party since 2009 when the GOP was reeling from President Barack Obama’s winning the presidency. Back then, the party was led by Jim Greer, who resigned later that year and eventually pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering of party donations.

Since January when new chairman Blaise Ingoglia took over, the party has raised just $7.2 million. While well ahead of the Florida Democratic Party’s $4.3 million year-to-date, the numbers are more than a million dollars shy of party fundraising heading into the 2012 presidential election cycle. Most years, the RPOF has raised at least $8.4 million by July.

Ingoglia has been hampered by the fact that he is also a member of the Florida House of Representatives. When the Legislature is in session, he is barred from raising money by legislative rules. The Legislature met from March to May, then again in special session in June. More specials sessions are on tap this month and in October.

More here.

July 30, 2015

GOP announces new Florida hires

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican National Committee has hired three new Florida staffers as the GOP gears up for the 2016 election.

Brian Barrett will serve as state director, Alex Garcia as deputy state director and director of Hispanic initiatives, and Ben Shankle as data director. Working for the RNC, the team will coordinate with the Republican Party of Florida on field activities such as attending community events and registering voters, according to a news release.

"The RNC is building the largest, earliest and most data focused field program in GOP history," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "This new wave of staff will help us train our team, register voters, and meet one-on-one with activists, to build our infrastructure now in order to hand our eventual nominee a fully functional ground operation on day one."

"The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our State Party is fighting for every vote across the state with a commitment to the ground game unparalleled in the history of Florida politics," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement. "That is why we are excited to welcome this new wave of staff that will play an essential role in preparing our grassroots army and building our data and digital operations that will deliver Florida to a strong Republican nominee."

Here are the bios provided for the three new staffers: 

Continue reading "GOP announces new Florida hires" »

July 14, 2015

A window into how the debate over property taxes is dividing Republicans

CLEARWATER _David McKalip arrived at the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee meeting Monday night with ammunition. 

The St. Petersburg neurosurgeon and outspoken conservative firebrand came armed with an amendment to a simple, boilerplate tax resolution that asserted the Pinellas Republicans were opposed any increase in millage rates for the 24 cities and 54 taxing districts in the county.

As REC chairman Nick DiCeglie read the resolution, McKalip stood in opposition. He wanted to make one change: to have the REC oppose any millage rate that did not rollback taxes to this year’s levels.

Property values are projected to rise 4.5 percent in the county this year, he argued, and “the amount of money you write in a check to the government goes up. That’s a tax increase.”

McKalip’s amendment would instruct cities and taxing districts to essentially reject the added revenues from the recovering property market and lower millage rates accordingly.

But the issue hit a nerve in the purple county, where Democrats outnumber Republicans – about 3,400 registered voters by DiCeglie’s count. A similar issue faced Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislators as they advanced a state budget that allows for the school districts to claim the increased revenues from rising property tax values rather than order a rollback in school millage rates.

The Pinellas REC leaders were not willing to let McKalip pressure Republican elected officials to make that choice.

Continue reading "A window into how the debate over property taxes is dividing Republicans" »

July 07, 2015

Univision publishes op-ed by Florida GOP chair, en español

@PatriciaMazzei

As the 2016 Republican presidential field bickers over Mexican immigrants and immigration reform, Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia submitted an op-ed to Spanish-language television giant Univision about his party's campaign for the White House.

Ingoglia doesn't speak Spanish. But the party's bilingual communications director, Wadi Gaitan, said Ingoglia can read it and understand some Spanish -- and more importantly cared enough about reaching out to Hispanics to have his ideas shared in their language. Nearly 15 percent of Florida voters identify as Hispanic.

"Mothers and fathers, Hispanics and young people, all will have an opportunity to decide which candidate has the leadership and right plan for our country," Ingoglia wrote (the translation is ours). "For that reason, the Republican Party of Florida is committed to having an open conversation about our vision of a better future, full of opportunities and economic growth."

Ingoglia also pledged to help campaigns and "open offices where people have an opportunity to support the candidate."

He concluded by touting the party's redesigned website -- which, however, is not quite as fleshed-out in Spanish.

This post has been corrected to note a version of the GOP website exists in Spanish, though it's not as robust.

May 29, 2015

Florida GOP rolls out finance committee

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida has assembled a team to kick off fund-raising for the 2016 election.

The list so far includes well-known former statehouse leaders, as well as prominent GOP fund-raisers, according to a news release in which Chairman Blaise Ingoglia touted members from "the many geographic areas" of the state. Unmentioned: the party's tense relationship with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has his own fund-raising committee, and with the state Senate.

"Our fundraising efforts will be vital as we prepare for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats," Ingoglia said in the release.

Here's the list:

Continue reading "Florida GOP rolls out finance committee" »

May 27, 2015

How Rick Scott snubbed the Florida GOP on presidential cattle call

via @adamsmithtimes

Gov. Rick Scott will be front and center before the national media Tuesday as he hosts his Economic Growth Summit at Disney World, where most of the top tier presidential candidates will be talking about the vision for growing the economy.

Overlooked on this high profile cattle call is how the entire thing was put together through Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work, rather than the state GOP. This is unprecedented and a reminder that the leading elected Republican in Florida still has a rocky - at best - relationship with the Republican Party of Florida. It's been that way since party officials snubbed him early this year by electing state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia the party chairman, rather than Scott's preferred candidate.

Traditionally, the state party has used these events to raise money through sponsorships, speaking fees, and the like that ultimately helps pay for the Republican nominee's general election campaign in Florida. No one from Let's Get to Work has yet responded to our inquiries today, so we don't know if Scott's committee is raising any money off his summit. 

Here's the rough schedule Tuesday:

Continue reading "How Rick Scott snubbed the Florida GOP on presidential cattle call" »

May 16, 2015

Florida GOP signs off on winner-take-all presidential primary

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida formally agreed Saturday to make the March 15, 2016, presidential primary a winner-take-all contest.

At a quarterly party meeting in Orlando, members signed off as expected on awarding the state's coveted 99 delegates to the primary victor -- a move that could benefit former Gov. Jeb Bush or U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio if one of them wins.

"With Florida's immense size and diverse population, any campaign that can mount a successful state-wide effort in Florida will be well positioned to run a truly national campaign come 2016," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement. "Florida will now be the first winner-take-all primary in the country, this ensures that all presidential campaigns will have to spend a considerable amount of time in Florida speaking to Republicans from Pensacola to Key West and everywhere in-between."

May 13, 2015

Florida GOP launches new website, logo

The 2016 general election is still months — okay, a year and a half — away, but the Republican Party of Florida put a target on Hillary Clinton in its big new digital initiative: florida.gop.

“LET’S STOP HILLARY IN 2016,” the site declares.

The new website and new logo are part of what Chairman Blaise Ingoglia calls “commitment to modernize the way we engage with voters across the state.”

And the digital launch is designed to leverage state and local party resources, as well as providing data to GOP activists, according to a release.

May 12, 2015

RPOF announces 2016 finance operation

The Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday announced its fundraising team for the 2016 election in the latest part of a shakeup since Chairman Blaise Ingoglia took over the party earlier this year.

Heather Manso will be finance director. She has fundraised for individual legislative candidates in Florida and was on staff for Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, when she was majority leader.

* Political Capital, a firm founded by Gretchen Picotte, will take the lead on fundraising for RPOF. She was the finance director for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign in Florida. The firm has run finance operations for federal and state races.

Rick Porter worked on Mel Martinez’s 2004 U.S. Senate election team as a field director and has worked on statewide and federal campaigns.