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:

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May 16, 2015

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


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:

“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. 

May 05, 2015

Republican Party of Florida hires top staff


The Republican Party of Florida, whose leadership was shaken up by the surprise January election of new chairman Blaise Ingoglia, has hired a new cadre of leaders, according to a press release. The party had been under interim leadership during the annual lawmaking session (Ingoglia is a state representative from Spring Hill).

They new hires are:

Brad Herold, who has been deputy executive director of the party since January, most recently served as deputy state director for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. Herold also managed Mike McFadden’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Minnesota against incumbent Senator Al Franken. Herold has also run campaigns for the RPOF and former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, as well as worked in the administrations of former Speaker Will Weatherford and Governor Rick Scott.

Wadi Gaitan most recently served as press secretary for the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Conference. During the 2014 campaign cycle he joined Congressman Carlos Curbelo's campaign as communications director. Aside from Miami, Gaitan has worked on campaigns in Modesto, Calif., and Boston, Mass. He holds a bachelor's degree in Communication from the University of Maryland.

Mallory Deason most recently served as the manager of public relations for Enterprise Florida, Inc., where she assisted with proactive messages and external communication. Prior to that, Mallory served in Governor Rick Scott’s press office in various roles, including as deputy press secretary. Deason received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Auburn University in May 2012. 

"Our vision for 2016 is simple -- energize the party, activate our grassroots and reach all of the voters with our message -- when in English or Spanish," Ingoglia said in a statement.

May 03, 2015

Legislative gridlock, dissension and uncertainty: Will it matter for GOP?

@PatriciaMazzei @MaryEllenKlas

The Florida House quit early. Senate Democrats sued. The state still has no budget, and no one has figured out a compromise on how to pay for healthcare.

But last week’s legislative meltdown in Tallahassee, dramatic and dysfunctional as it was, doesn’t appear to threaten the political future of Republicans who control both chambers of state government — or of anyone else in their party running for office in 2016.

Most GOP state lawmakers remain in safe, conservative-leaning districts. Democrats have only a thin bench to challenge the ones who don’t. And there’s little indication that many Floridians are aware that their state Legislature, an institution followed far less closely than Congress, is gridlocked.

“I always use my parents, who live in Orlando, as a measure — and it’s fair to say the average Floridian isn’t paying a lot of attention compared to the rest of us living in the bubble of Tallahassee,” said David Hart, executive president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

A rundown of what happened: The House adjourned three days early, which was historically unprecedented, to protest a budget impasse and reject Senate demands to discuss Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate, united in rare bipartisan accord,stayed in town, passing bills to the empty chamber across the hall and accusing the House of violating the state constitution with its early exit on Tuesday.

Senate Democrats sued the House, asking the court Thursday to bring representatives back to finish their work. On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the House had violated the state constitution — but, with the midnight deadline of the regular session approaching, it was too late to call anyone back to Tallahassee.

Will any of it matter?

“I think there will be very little political fallout,” said Steve Vancore, a Democratic political consultant and pollster.

More here.

April 24, 2015

Republican feud has shades of Democrat's dissension of two decades ago

Republicans in the Florida Legislature have met the enemy, and it is them.

They can’t agree on using federal money for people with no health care and as a result, budget negotiations are in disarray in a year with a $1 billion surplus. Unable to resolve their differences after months of refusing to compromise, Republican lawmakers will end the regular session next Friday without completing the one task they are required to do: passing a state budget.

The government of the nation’s third-largest state is controlled by one party, yet the standoff is Republican against Republican, in some cases involving members of the same family. House Republicans have been distracted by a leadership coup while Gov. Rick Scott is personally threatening to veto Republican senators’ bills and spending items unless they approve his tax cuts of $673 million.

“This damages our party,’’ said Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon when tensions were at their peak last week. “This makes us look like we cannot govern, that we cannot work out our differences, and the talk about a big tent is cheap.”

Lee likened the bickering among Republicans to the internal dissension that hastened the demise of the once-dominant Democratic Party in Florida two decades ago.

“We’re becoming just like the people we sought to unseat in the mid ’90s,’’ said Lee, a former Senate president. He expressed his disgust as fellow Republicans push for “a seemingly endless stream of budget requests that are only loosely related to the role state government should play.”

More here.

January 18, 2015

Rick Scott loses allies, credibility amid FDLE scandal and RPOF chair vote

Gov. Rick Scott has started losing allies and credibility midway through the first month of his second term.

It all erupted in one politically disastrous week in which Scott:

1. Was publicly accused of being a liar by the former chief of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He says the governor’s campaign last year inappropriately tried to meddle in department business and investigations for political reasons.

2. Estranged fellow statewide elected Republicans in the Florida Cabinet, who began to distance themselves from Scott amid the controversy.

3. Was embarrassed by rank-and-file Republican Party of Florida members who bucked him by refusing to vote in his handpicked party chair. By weighing in on the race — and using arm-twisting tactics — Scott broke his pledge to remain neutral. After RPOF members defied Scott and chose a different party chair, a bizarre scene unfolded at the GOP’s Tallahassee headquarters, where Senate Republican staffers moved out and took $800,000 with them.

If no amends are made, the party chaos and Scott’s isolation portends a rough legislative session and an intra-party knife fight ahead of the 2016 presidential race.

Some Republicans grumble that Scott is trying to use party fundraising to make himself a power player who could blunt the advantages that former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio enjoy in Florida as part of their potential bids for the White House. Scott allies deny it.

Scott’s troubles started Tuesday when the governor and Cabinet were set to choose a new FDLE commissioner because the previous chief, Gerald Bailey, unexpectedly quit of his own accord. At least, that’s what Scott’s team was saying and what Scott was suggesting publicly.

“He resigned,” Scott said Tuesday.

But that wasn’t true, Bailey and others say.

“If he said I resigned voluntarily, that is a lie,” Bailey told the Herald/Times capital bureau, which broke the story. “If he said that, he’s being totally untruthful.”

Column here

Hard feelings? ¡Dale! Rick Scott would rather praise rapper Pitbull than new GOP chair on Twitter


While apologists are trying to spin yesterday's shocking defeat of Gov. Rick Scott's handpicked GOP chair, his Twitter account indicates otherwise. Scott's Twitter handle, @FLGovScott has been completely silent on yesterday's state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia's victory in the Republican Party of Florida chair race against incumbent Leslie Dougher.

Contrast Scott's silence with the reactions on Twitter of his fellow Republicans elected to statewide posts on the Florida Cabinet.

Attorney General Pam Bondi went first:

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam soon followed: 

Then state CFO Jeff Atwater weighed in:

Sure, talk is cheap. But manners are free. And the absence of friendliness and credibility can be politically costly.

Now if only Ingoglia was a Miami rapper with a birthday. That's worth a Tweet from the top elected Republican in the third most-populous state. Or, as Pitbull is fond of saying: "¡Dale!"

Blaise Ingoglia lays down the law at RPOF


After yesterday's unexpected vote installing Rep. Blaise Ingoglia as Republican Party of Florida chairman, the Florida Senate's election staff moved money and equipment out of RPOF, leading to this edict from Ingoglia: 

Republican Party of Florida Officers, Staff, and Consultants,

To help ensure a smooth and orderly transition of power between the administrations of outgoing Chairman Leslie Dougher and myself, and pursuant with Republican Party of Florida Rules and Florida Statutes, I’m instituting the following guidelines as we work through this process.

From this moment forward the Republican Party Of Florida shall not process payment, incur costs, issue checks, transfer money or make any financial commitments without strict written approval of myself or a designated member of my transition staff.

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