Hillsborough GOP Chair Deb Tamargo steps down

Deborah Tamargo

Deborah Tamargo is stepping down from her position as Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee Chair.

The change is effective as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

By order of succession,  Party Secretary Jeanne Webb will assume the interim chair position, Tamargo said.

Tamargo’s resignation follows months of controversy that had boiled up inside the Hillsborough GOP, advanced when Webb and three other Hillsborough County Republican Party officers filed a grievance with the Republican Party of Florida last fall that called on the state party to suspend Tamargo.

Issues with the chair began after a debate over the location of the Party’s monthly meetings, with some advocating they be held at the River of Tampa Bay, versus keeping them at Netpark Tampa Bay.

From there, the debate escalated when Tamargo told a female speaker commenting on the issue during a Party meeting to keep her comments brief.

That comment ultimately led four members of the party’s executive committee — Webb, Clarice Henderson, Michael Henderson and Jim Waurishuk — to file a grievance against Tamargo, accusing her of violating state party rules, specifically in her manner of discussion over the site of the party’s monthly meetings.

“My resignation is a means that will hopefully end attempts made over the last couple of months to distract our committee from our mission and goals, ” Tamargo writes in her resignation letter. “Though those attempts didn’t deter the super majority of  members from continuing to faithfully perform our responsibilities as members, it became increasingly difficult for our Board to move forward with the unity necessary to focus on winning 2018 elections.”

Tamargo had never enjoyed a considerable mandate since assuming the chair of the Hillsborough GOP in 2014 when she narrowly defeated former Deborah Cox-Roush. She then survived an insurgent challenge against her chair position again in 2016 by Jonny Torres, who claimed that party membership and interest had dropped in the party in recent years and that local candidates weren’t helped much by the REC in the 2016 election cycle.

Tamargo’s resignation is the second by a Republican party chair from a major county in the past couple of days. Bob Sutton, the chairman of the Broward Republican Party, resigned last Saturday.

That announcement was made publicly by RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia during the state party’s quarterly Executive Board meeting in Orlando.

“I’m still a 100 percent issue-oriented Republican and supporter,” Tamargo wrote to Florida Politics in a brief email Monday night.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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