The internet domain JoeGrutersforCongress.com has already been reserved, feeding speculation about state Sen. Joe Gruters’ ambitions.
But Gruters, also Republican Party of Florida chairman, said he has no immediate plans to seek higher office. Rather, he said the actions of a Democratic colleague decided he should plan for the future.
“I was talking to one of the guys when the Margaret Good story came out, they thought it was a good idea to buy some of the domains associated with your name,” Gruters said.
And so close political ally Christian Ziegler, Florida GOP Vice Chair, registered JoeGrutersforCongress.com and GrutersforCongress.com.
Both are parked with GoDaddy and have no content published.
But there’s a big difference from the Good situation, Gruters said.
Good actually launched a bid for Congress within days of Florida Politics reporting the domain was registered. She’s challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.
Coincidentally, Gruters also lives in Buchanan’s district.
But he said he certainly won’t challenge his mentor: Gruters managed one of Buchanan’s Congressional campaigns.
That said, the registration may fuel speculation on whether Buchanan indeed follows through with his reelection campaign. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included him on a 2020 “Retirement Watch” list.
Notably, Good – who spoke with the DCCC in advance of her Congressional run – has not hammered Buchanan in interviews since announcing her bid.
But Gruters said there is a “100 percent chance I am running for state Senate,” and he dismissed speculation otherwise.
“This has no bearing on my immediate future,” he said. “I’m looking forward to supporting Vern Buchanan’s efforts against Margaret Good and I’m look forward to serving as long as I can in the state Senate.”
Gruters won his Senate seat in 2018, but he was only elected to a two-year term. The election was called after former state Sen. Greg Steube launched an ultimately successful Congressional bid.
So Gruters stands for reelection again in 2020. He’s raised $101,398 toward that effort, including $7,607 raised in June.
Buchanan’s team has repeatedly scoffed at suggestions he will retire. They dismissed any questions raised about the domain registration.
“Joe is always thinking of the future, it’s not surprising he would register a domain down the road,” said Max Goodman, who managed Buchanan’s last campaign. He has done work for Gruters as well.
“But Joe thinks the world of Vern and Vern thinks the same of Joe.”
Goodman also pointed to FEC reports as a sign Buchanan has no plans to retire soon. The Republican Congressman has raised more than $1 million already this campaign cycle.
Much of it has gone to repay $500,000 in personal funds Buchanan spent fending off a challenge by Democrat David Shapiro in 2018.
Buchanan remains a favorite for re-election after defeating Shapiro by 10 points in November.