Joe Gruters won reelection unanimously to a second term as chairman for the Republican Party of Florida.
Speaking immediately after Gov. Ron DeSantis at an annual meeting for the state party at Rosen Single Creek in Orlando, Gruters praised the volunteers and committee members who helped the party outpace Democrats in voter registration and turnout this year. “This is why we won in Florida,” he said. “And won big!”
The efforts led to Donald Trump tripling his margin of victory in Florida over 2016 even as he lost other battleground states to Joe Biden.
Gruters spoke to Florida Florida Politics about the coming election cycle, when five statewide races will be on the ballot. That means the party will be focused on keeping a Senate seat and the Governor’s Mansion, defending two Cabinet posts and trying to flip a third. Every statewide Republican on the ballot in 2022, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis attended this year’s convention, which Gruters sees as a sign of unity.
“We were united in this past election cycle, and that’s the reason we are going to be successful in the future,” he said.
While there were news articles in the past two years about friction between Gruters and DeSantis, the state chair hoped the high-profile speech by the Governor at the annual meeting showed everyone is moving together in the right direction while Republicans turn attention toward 2022.
Unity may be harder at some points than others. There’s speculation already that some Republicans hunger for a primary challenge to Rubio next year. That heightened among the Trump faithful following Rubio’s resistance to calls to object to Biden’s electoral college win. Some expect Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump, Jr., both moving to Florida, to challenge the sitting Senator in a GOP primary.
While Gruters said the party won’t take sides in a party, he dismissed much of that as noise.
“I’m not making an endorsement because I don’t know who else is running but I think Sen. Rubio is the best possible person to defend that seat,” Gruters said. “We have a great candidate in Marco Rubio.”
Gruters himself has enjoyed state prominence in Florida for several years for being one of the first county chairs in Florida to endorse Trump on the 2016 primary over favorite sons like Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. As the president leaves office defeated and twice impeached, Gruters said he feels Trump will still have a strong voice in GOP politics in the Sunshine State, where he will live in his Mar-a-Lago residence.
“The core principles that Trump championed — America First, the Forgotten Man, helping working class Americans — that is here to stay,” he said. “You can’t skim over the successes he had in international relationships. We didn’t start any wars. There’s peace in the Middle East and we are withdrawing our troops. One of the most successful legacies is the creation of the Space Force. Those policies will continue to dominate races for years to come.”
In the coming two years, Gruters as party chair will try to replicate much of the success seen his first two years as state chair. He believes it’s possible not only to close a voter registration gap with Democrats in Florida but to erase it entirely and enter the next election with more registered Republicans in the state.
“That’s still my No. 1 priority,” he said. He acknowledged in the past week, there has been a slip in registrations for Republicans. But that will turn around, he said.
“We crushed the Democrats on the ground, we crushed them in voter registrations and we crushed them in voter turnout,” he said. “That’s how you measure a party and it’s successes.”
It’s a great honor to be unanimously re-elected as chairman of the @FloridaGOP. Hard work, organization, quality candidates all played a pivotal role in delivering resounding victories across our state. Onward to 2022 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/wRySKxbdGE
— Joe Gruters (@JoeGruters) January 16, 2021