Sarasota County Republican Party Chair, and newly elected state senator Joe Gruters has emerged as the leading candidate to head the Republican Party of Florida. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis is expected to formally endorse Gruters tomorrow, a source confirms to FLA News. Other Republican leaders are also coalescing around him.
DeSantis met with Gruters this week after interviewing other candidates Monday.
Current RPOF Chair Blaise Ingoglia announced Tuesday that he would not seek a third two-year term after leading the Republicans through another cycle of election dominance. While Democrats made gains nationally, Florida Republicans won a U.S. Senate seat, kept the governor’s office, control of the cabinet and a solid legislative majority.
Gruters served as Florida co-chair for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. With Gruters heading the state party, the President is assured of a key supporter controlling the party machine as Trump faces reelection in 2020. The loyalty with Trump is so strong, a 2016 U.S. News and World Report article labeled Gruters “Donald Trump’s Florida Man.”
There are other indicators the GOP stars are aligning for Gruters. Leon County Republican Party Chair Evan Power, who had planned to run for state chair, announced Wednesday he will run as vice chair.
Gruters hasn’t yet officially said he’s a candidate for state Republican chair, and he declined comment for this story. That will likely change with a big splash Thursday.
The Republican Party of Florida chair is elected by county chairs and county state committee men and women. It’s a fiercely independent group of local GOP leaders. In 2015, they rejected Governor Scott’s choice to head the state party. This time will likely be different. Gruters is one of them, a strong supporter of the President and will have the backing of the state’s newly elected governor.