The Republican Party of Florida is “as strong as it has ever been,” Chairman Joe Gruters said Wednesday. He’s confident the party will for the first time overtake Democrats in Florida voter registration very soon.
“We’ll flip Florida by the end of the year, certainly by the election,” he said referencing the 2022 midterm. “That’s a good indication of where the state is going with good conservative leadership from top to bottom.”
That’s an abundance of confidence and enthusiasm from a party chair most recently in the news because of a sexual harassment complaint against him. A third-party investigation cleared Gruters, unable to find any first-hand account to back up the accusation. But when news broke, it fed days of rumors of tumult in Tallahassee.
In his first media interview since the non-scandal, Gruters said he’s not focused on that incident and instead wants all Republicans laser-focused on 2022.
During a conference call with RPOF executive committee members last week, Gruters announced the party would hire 165 new staff members to mobilize registration and turnout for the election cycle. That includes bringing on Brooke Renney, who will head up an election integrity operation for the state party, and Blaze Drinkwine, a new strategic initiatives director.
“We’re going to provide ground support statewide and to local candidates who need it,” he said. “We are in a great position to capitalize on our successes in 2020. We will crush the Democrats in voter registration, turnout on Election Day and ultimately at the polls.”
His first election as state chair brought significant successes. While former President Donald Trump lost reelection, he won Florida by three percentage points, one of only three states where the former Commander in Chief won by a larger margin than in 2016. Republicans also flipped two U.S. House seats and made gains in both chambers of the Florida Legislature.
For Gruters part, he kept the party focused even amid a global pandemic on increasing ranks. Despite Republicans winning the Governor’s mansion and most statewide and legislative offices for upward of 20 years, Democrats have long maintained an edge in voter registration. But that could soon change.
As of the end of May, the Division of Elections reported 5.25 million registered Democrats and 5.17 million Republicans, with a difference of just 76,284 between the major parties. There are also some 4.1 million no-party-affiliation or third party voters.
Enthusiasm around Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic has fueled party growth, Gruters said.
“People are moving to Florida, escaping these left-wing liberal states in favor of a state that has freedom and liberty,” he said.