Joe Gruters: Republicans will make six-figure investments in battleground legislative races

Joe Gruters
"We’ve just done a better job with our campaign committees ."

Republican Party of Florida chair Joe Gruters fully expects to grow the GOP caucus in the House and Senate this year.

“We’re on offense,” the Sarasota Republican said. “We have great candidates and that really plays into it as a big factor. Plus, we’ve just done a better job with our campaign committees to run in competitive districts.”

Gruters said in competitive House and Senate seats, the state party will make investments of at least six figures in races. ”In a lot, we’re in multiple six figures,” he said.

The talk comes as chatter continues to grow around the level of investment Democratic leadership at Florida House Victory has made in competitive races.

But only time will tell how much each side invests at the end of the day.

Gruters says he sees a chance to increase the GOP majority in the House, and has his eyes on five Democratic seats. That includes one in his backyard, House District 72, where he expects a substantial investment to be made to retake a seat won by Margaret Good in 2018. Now, the seat is open and Republican Fiona McFarland faces Democrat Drake Buckman.

But he also sees close races held by Democrats. “Anywhere that it was close, we are going to be assistant,” he said.

Also a state Senator, Gruters faces his own Democratic challenger in Katherine Norman. He’s prepared to attend debates and forums, he said.

But the party identifies four races as battlegrounds in the Senate side, and his District is not among them. He looks to four seats, two where the party is on offense (Senate District 37 and Senate District 3) and two where it’s on defense (Senate District 9 and Senate District 39).

The list of competitive House races is more dynamic and shifts a bit week to week. Regardless, Gruters said the party will provide support where needed.

“Our map is growing,” Gruters said. ”Different races have different needs but we have the resources to run strong campaigns.”

Above all, he expects President Donald Trump to win Florida and lift all candidates on the ballot this cycle.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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