Orange County Republicans return leadership

Charles Hart

A challenge of Orange County’s Republican leadership fell flat Thursday night returning Chair Charles Hart and his team for new terms, this time full terms backed by strong showings in elections.

Hart fended off a challenge from insurgent Randy Ross in a vote of 81 to 23 Thursday night, and the party’s designated slate of Vice Chair Lou Marin, Secretary Robbie Ford and others were re-elected without opposition.

This comes after one of the most tumultuous and disappointing years for the county party, in which the party’s previous vice chair resigned in a legal scandal and Democrats flipped three Florida House seats and took control of the Orange County Commission. Hart and the others had only come to office in the latter few months of 2018 and ran on platforms of behind-the-scenes improvements that have not yet born fruit.

Ross, founder of the Trump 2020 Club, contended the county party was in need of a major, 21st-century overhaul. Yet Ross has been part of an insurgency before and has twice previously lost landslide elections for board positions. This time was no different.

“We have a lot of work to do; we’re going to get it done together,” Hart said Friday morning. “We are seeing a big resurgence of the Republican Party here in orange County. People are very excited about our future. I’m so appreciative of the people that supported me and want me to lead them into the future and help re-elect Donald Trump in 2020.

Also elected Thursday were Kris Cruzada as treasurer, Leslie LInden as assistant secretary, Lito Valdivia as assistant treasurer, and Joel Hawksley as executive director.


Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704