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Responding to critics, state GOP chairman says he has 'great' relationship with Florida Senate


Republican Party of Florida chairman Blaise Ingoglia says endorsements from 10 state senators for his re-election as party leader is evidence that the GOP is far more unified than his critics contend.

Ingoglia on Wednesday morning released a list of new endorsements that includes Senate-president-in-waiting Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

“The fact is that I, as well as the RPOF, have a great working relationship with our Florida Senators and their leadership,” Ingoglia said.

But Ingoglia’s rival for the RPOF’s top spot says those endorsements do little to change what has happened over the last two years. Sarasota Republican Christian Ziegler said when Ingoglia, who is also a state representative from Hernando County, won the chairmanship, the Florida Senate pulled out $800,000 out of the RPOF’s accounts. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, responded similarly, pulling $600,000 out of the RPOF.

“They pulled their money out and have worked independently of the RPOF,” Ziegler said Wednesday.

Zeigler has made the need to re-unify the party a big part of his campaign to unseat Ingoglia. The two face a Jan. 14 vote among RPOF activists to decide who will lead the party over the next two years.

On a weekly basis Ingoglia has rolled out endorsements from RPOF activists, U.S.  Sen. Marco Rubio, 11 members of Congress from Florida, Florida’s elected CFO Jeff Atwater and now the 10 state senators.

“I am committed to working collaboratively with the Florida Senate, the Florida House, our Congressional delegation, the Governor and the cabinet to advance our shared goals of making Florida the best state in the nation!” Ingoglia wrote in a letter sent to voting members of the Republican Executive Committee.

Ziegler said the endorsements mean little to him because the vote is ultimately a secret ballot and just because people are publicly supporting Ingoglia doesn’t mean they will actually vote for him. He said Senators might largely be supporting Ingoglia to offer and olive branch to the Florida House as they prepare for the 2017 legislative session, given Ingoglia is an ally of House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Ziegler said if the Senate Republicans really supporter Ingoglia they will park their money back with the RPOF, something they have not done.

The Senators who backed Ingoglia on Wednesday included: Sens. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland; Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island; Frank Artiles, R-Miami; Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala; Travis Hutson, R-Jacksonville; Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach; Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples; Greg Steube, R-Sarasota; Dana Young, R-Tampa, and Galvano.