Joe Gruters made clear Thursday night he plans to seek a second term as state chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
While a formal announcement is still forthcoming, when asked on an RPOF conference call if he wanted to stay around another two years, the Sarasota Republican answered in the affirmative.
“As I look back in 2016 when I became the Trump co-chairman for the state of Florida,” Gruters told state committee members, “it has been an honor of a lifetime to serve in this capacity as Chairman of the party since 2018. This has been an absolutely incredible ride.”
He separately spoke to Florida Politics about the party’s success during his two-year tenure:
FP: What do you think you achieved as party chair? What still needs to be done?
Joe Gruters: We’ve cut voter registration down to about 134,000. That’s the lowest it’s ever been. The goal now is to put Florida red in terms of our voter registration. We obviously produced and put Florida solidly in the red column, at least for the cycle. However, based on 2018, we still have to work hard every cycle. Number two, we’ve got two elections in 2022. We got the Governor’s reelection, and we got Sen. Marco Rubio up for reelection, so we need to make sure we hold both of those positions.
FP: Have you balanced your various political jobs, including your Senate work?
JG; I wear different hats but am able to do both jobs successfully. Especially during that last stretch, I came in as somewhat of a unifying candidate. Working in the Senate, I was trying to do my best to keep everybody working together and rowing in the same direction. We had the RNC, the Trump Victory team, and the Republican Party of Florida literally all working together at the same time, and we produced record results. As a guy who served as Young Republicans President and 12 years as my county Chairman, I consider myself a grassroots Chairman, and I love the role that I get to play.
FP: Is continuity important for the party now?
JG: Even at the local level, continuity in leadership is the most important thing for the party. It’s just a consistency, especially when you had success like we had. I was so lucky we had so many Chairman and committee members and grassroots leaders out there working hard every day. They made all of our jobs easier, and we had the House and Senate campaigns. That was our secret weapon — and of course, the Governor and his leadership.
FP: Do you anticipate any opposition for the chairmanship this year?
JG: You never know. My record speaks for itself. Competition is not necessarily bad. I served as Chairman for 12 years in Sarasota; as a matter of fact, I’ve got to run for local Chairman again next month. I’m happy to put my record against anybody who thinks they can do a better job. Don’t forget: We crushed the Democrats in registration when Andrew Gillum said he was going to come in and register all these people. We crushed the Democrats on the ground, pounding the pavement while their candidate was literally hiding in a basement.
FP: How long will the party continue to support Trump’s efforts to challenge results in other states?
JG: We’re trying to make sure that every legal vote counts. The states are going to start certifying these races, and we’ve got to make sure that this is a fair process. I’ve encouraged the Trump team to leave no stone unturned and to make sure that we have the accurate count. I don’t trust the process; I do have my doubts. It’s obviously tough to overturn these things because fraudulent voting is a crime that almost disappears once it’s committed. But we need somebody to fight and make sure if there is fraud, it doesn’t happen again. There is still a path for the President to win this race. Until those paths are exhausted, I encourage him to continue the fight, and I will continue to fight.