Collier Republicans endorse Ted Blankenship in Naples Mayor race

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The local party picked him over the incumbent Mayor or a challenger backed by ex-Rep. Francis Rooney.

The Collier County Republican Executive Committee (REC) has picked its favorite in the upcoming Naples Mayor race.

The REC voted unanimously to endorse Naples City Council member Ted Blankenship, who kicked off his campaign in October.

“Our party is united and ready for change at all levels of government,” said Collier County GOP Chair John Meo. “We are a party of lower taxes, less government and more freedom. Ted Blankenship’s record clearly exemplifies that. He has the full endorsement of the Collier County GOP and our members.”

More even than the endorsement, the unanimous vote stood out given that there are multiple Republicans in the nonpartisan race.

Blankenship is challenging incumbent Mayor Teresa Heitmann, who won the Mayor position in 2020, unseating Bill Barnett.

Former Naples City Councilman Gary Price also is running, and received a major financial boost recently when former U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, a Naples Republican, hosted a fundraiser on his behalf.

The municipal race on March 19 is set to be an expensive affair, with consultants and political observers expecting more than $1 million to be spent.

Through Jan. 13, Heitmann had raised nearly $63,000 for the race, while Price collected more than $219,000. Blankenship at that point had raised about $35,000. Those reports don’t show any of the fundraising in February.

The party support could balance out any financial deficit for Blankenship in the race, as the party holds significant sway in the heavily Republican Naples area. An REC press release promised to provide volunteers and to “work tirelessly to help Ted Blankenship get elected.”

The REC chose not to issue an endorsement in a Naples City Council election taking place the same day as the Mayor’s election.

The city elections take place the same day as the Presidential Primary in Florida.

Candidates for both elections participated in a debate this week.

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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