GOP consultant April Schiff defeated incumbent GOP State Committeewoman Clarice Henderson Tuesday night, setting up what could be a shift in Hillsborough County Republican politics.
Schiff earned 53% of the vote, according to unofficial election results with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
Schiff is an ally of Republican Party of Hillsborough County chair Jim Waurishuk, a controversial leader in the party who some have been bold enough to criticize.
Waurishuk has drawn fire in the past for incendiary statements comparing Democrats to Nazis and calling the novel coronavirus a hoax.
Most recently he took heat for appearing to promote Hillsborough County Sheriff candidate Charles Boswell who unsuccessfully challenged Chad Chronister. The party, under Waurishuk’s leadership, sent a flyer to members promoting Boswell. Waurishuk defended the move saying it’s something they would have done for either Republican candidate. Chronister, who faced criticism from some in his own party for past financial support for former President Barack Obama, defeated Boswell in a landslide with 62% of the vote.
While some have been private with their concerns about Waurishuk, Schiff was an outspoken member arguing Waurishuk failed to unite the party amid an outsized loyalty to President Donald Trump.
It’s been common insider knowledge for a while that Republicans would like to see a change in leadership in the Hillsborough GOP, but Waurishuk commanded a majority of allies among the party precinct, which elect the chair.
State committee positions are elected among all registered Republicans in the county, however. Schiff’s election gives the party a new perspective and puts a dent in Waurishuk’s alliance.
Schiff ran unsuccessfully against Waurishuk in 2018.
She hopes to better unite the party and reengage conservatives in a local party that has seen declining membership and fundraising.