October 05, 2015

Chris Christie, Rand Paul to attend Florida Sunshine Summit


The Republican Party of Florida announced Monday that two more presidential contenders will attend a November conference.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul confirmed their attendance, bringing to eight the number of GOP candidates who have said they'll be at the two-day Sunshine Summit in Orlando. 

"As our list of participating candidates continues to grow, we are excited to welcome Gov. Christie and Sen. Paul to the Sunshine Summit in Orlando," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement. "With eight candidates announced to attend, and more to come, the Sunshine Summit is turning out to be the can't-miss event of the primary election."

The other candidates who have RSVP'ed are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and developer Donald Trump.

October 01, 2015

2 more Republican presidential candidates will attend Florida cattle call


The Republican Party of Florida said Thursday two more 2016 presidential candidates will attend the party's Sunshine Summit in Orlando next month.

Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have been added to the schedule, RPOF said in a statement. The party announced earlier this week that Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio have also said they'll be there.

The Florida GOP is trying to draw attention to the nation's largest swing state, which doesn't hold its winner-take-all-delegates primary until March 15. Some candidates have been reluctant to campaign here in earnest because Rubio and Bush have monopolized most Florida Republicans' attention.

"The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our grassroots leaders and volunteers are ready to hear the candidates share their vision for the future of our nation," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement.

By attending, the candidates avoid penalties that the RPOF was threatening to impose. New rules adopted recently  by the RPOF require candidates either to show up at the Nov. 13-14 Summit at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, write a $25,000 check to the state party, or gather 3,375 signatures from Florida Republicans in order for the party to place their names on Florida's presidential primary ballot in March.

It is all meant to boost attendance at the newly created Summit, which lacks a debate or straw poll that have been big draws at past state party-organized rallies during past presidential election cycles. The RPOF earlier this year announced it was changing the name of its event from what would have been Presidency 6 to the Sunshine Summit.

Without a debate or straw poll, the RPOF has turned the event into a more conference-like structure like the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, where speakers addresses crowds separately over a period of days and hold breakout sessions and other events with their supporters.

--with Jeremy Wallace

September 29, 2015

Four presidential candidates have said yes so far to Florida GOP summit

via @adamsmithtimes

Florida Republican Party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia confirms that Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Bobby Jindal have committed to attend the party's Nov. 13-14 Sunshine Summit in Orlando.

"Their participation will help fire up Florida Republicans as we come together before 2016. The Sunshine Summit is a unique event where candidates will share their vision for the future of our nation with the more than 2,500 expected activists and grassroots leaders in one of the most influential primary and general election swing states. We look forward to announcing additional participating candidates as we draw closer to our event,” said GOP Chairman Ingoglia.

More names are likely to be announced later this week, but for those keeping score here's who so far has NOT Committed to attending: Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump. Under newly enacted Florida GOP rules, no candidate will be placed on Florida's March 15 Republican presidential primary unless they either attend the summit, stroke a $25,000 check to the state party or gather signatures from 3,375 registered Republican voters including at least 125 registered Republican voters from each of Florida’s 27 Congressional Districts.

Continue reading "Four presidential candidates have said yes so far to Florida GOP summit" »

September 16, 2015

Nelson Diaz: RPOF should use ballot to get GOP presidential candidates to 'take us seriously'

Nelson DiazWith the shadow of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush hovering over the state, the Republican Party of Florida has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the GOP primary.

Presidential candidates "are just not taking us seriously,'' said Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Miami Dade Republican Party, noting that few have visited the state except for fundraising and a handful are not willing to commit to the Presidential Summit scheduled in Orlando Nov. 13 and 14. 

Diaz is among a growing faction of the state's Republican leadership who are promoting the idea of excluding from the March 15 presidential primary ballot anyone who refuses to show up in Florida, or take part in the summit. Federal election law allows the parties to control the rules and the slate of candidates that appear on the primary ballot and, Diaz notes, there is no stopping the RPOF from writing some rules of entry. 

"Florida and two other states are arguably two of the most important states in the country,'' Diaz told the Herald/Times. "Any of these candidates could become the nominee of they win in Florida. But if they ignore us, they become a weaker general election candidate and that makes our jobs harder."

The issues was the subject of a telephone conference call Tuesday night, as reported by Politico, and will be voted on formally at a teleconference next week. 

Continue reading "Nelson Diaz: RPOF should use ballot to get GOP presidential candidates to 'take us seriously'" »

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


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: 

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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


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


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" »