With contest uncertain, RPOF chair Leslie Dougher brandishes endorsements from former party leaders


Even in the wake of so much success for the Florida GOP in the 2014 midterms, this year’s race for chair of the state Republican Party has become a contentious affair.

With three serious contenders after her job — Spring Hill state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, former Marion County state Rep. Kurt Kelley and Martin County GOP State Committeeman Eric Miller — Chair Leslie Dougher has found herself in quite a live one in a race that is often a shoo-in for an incumbent.

But with her rivals all claiming they are gaining ground, Dougher issued a memo Tuesday that contains endorsements from the last five consecutive party chairs: Lenny Curry, John Thrasher, Carole Jean Jordan, Al Cardenas, and Van Poole.

Curry, who set off a chain reaction of position-jockeying by resigning as RPOF leader back in April, laid out the case most succinctly:

“We expanded the number of Republicans in the Legislature, we re-elected our Republican Cabinet, and Governor Scott won a great victory,” he said in a blurb praising Dougher.

In a word — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Another wrinkle: Eric Miller got a surprisingly close 61-106 result against Dougher back in May, when he relied on grassroots support contra the state establishment, led by the governor. With Scott now a lame duck, electors will feel freer to countermand him and go with their preferred guy. Yet that larger oppositional slice of the pie might still lose out with three candidates all vying for the same county and local votes, while Dougher eats up a large bloc of votes from legislative leaders not really in play for anyone else.

There may be enough opposition votes to oust Dougher, though how many of those are double- and triple- (quadruple?-) committed is anyone’s guess.

Ryan Ray

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at [email protected]


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