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Dougher Out, Ingoglia In As New RPOF Chair

Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) is the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) is the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) is the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
Credit Florida House of Representatives
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) is the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

The Republican Party of Florida has elected a new chair, state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill). That means Governor Rick Scott’s hand-picked chairwoman, Leslie Dougher is out.

Dougher was appointed by Scott in May. She replaced Lenny Curry, who resigned in order to run for Mayor of Jacksonville. Dougher led the party to victory during the recent election cycle—and Republicans won a super-majority in the Florida House, and secured all cabinet positions, including Governor Rick Scott’s re-election. She was campaigning for a two-year term.

Republicans’ victorious election cycle wasn’t enough for her to keep her job.

Some Republicans say the vote was not about Dougher, but about the way the party is being run. Dougher had the support of establishment GOP officials  like Scott, Florida legislative leaders and several former party chairs. Ingoglia, and others challenged Dougher with a goal of getting a more grass-roots and localized approach toward governing.

Dougher’s defeat could also be the first time a governor’s preferred candidate was rejected by the Republican Party of Florida’s executive committee. Days before the vote, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater hinted at the discord.

“We’ve heard loud and clear over the last couple years ‘hey, come down, let everyone put their best foot forward, come down, let them speak, listen closely.’ And I think that’s what we’re doing," Atwater said.

Shortly after his win, RPOF’s new Chairman, Ingoglia issued a statement.

“I am humbled and honored to have been elected to lead the Republican Party of Florida. We are a strong, grassroots organization and a model for success for other state parties around the country to look to,” said Ingoglia, who has been Vice Chair of RPOF since 2011. “RPOF will play a crucial role in selecting our party’s nominee in 2016 and returning a Republican to the White House. I am thrilled to lead this great party and look forward to working with the grassroots across this state.”

The GOP leadership shuffle caps a week of bad headlines for Governor Rick Scott.

Earlier in the week Rick Swearingen was confirmed by the cabinet as the new Secretary of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Scott told Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam that former FDLE Secretary Gerald Bailey had resigned. Bailey says he was forced out.

Atwater, Bondi and Putnam compose the rest of the cabinet. And all say they’re disappointed in the way Bailey, who served as FDLE Secretary for three governors—including Scott, was treated.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.
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