There is no active effort in the Florida House to drop Eric Eisnaugle as speaker designate, according to freshman state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia.
GOP leaders accused the Republican Party of Florida chair of pressuring three new House members from Central Florida into supporting Ingoglia over Eisnaugle, who is set to assume the speakership in 2021-2022.
“The accusation that the RPOF has made any threats to sitting members of the Florida House of Representatives is flat out wrong and void of any truth,” Ingoglia said in a statement Monday. “In fact, one phone call to any of these three members would have cleared that up immediately.”
It began this weekend with an email from former RPOF Chair Leslie Dougher, whom Ingoglia defeated in January. Dougher wrote of a challenge to “supplant” Eisnaugle.
“I write to you hoping that you will continue the great work you’ve begun in bringing our states’ 29 electoral votes into the Republican column in November and use the leadership of the Party to focus all Republicans in Florida to that goal,” she wrote. “I urge you to continue to create the best Republican Party you can in such an important year.”
It was the latest in the widening rift in the state GOP since rank-and-file RPOF members resisted Gov. Rick Scott by refusing to vote in Dougher, the governor’s preferred party chair.
Orange County Republican Chair Lew Oliver, in another angry email to party leaders, blamed Ingoglia for “convoluted ethical gymnastics” to have lawmakers go back on written commitments of support.
“This ought to make every one of us absolutely furious,” Oliver warned. “Today, three seats we worked like hell to win in Orange County are at risk … tomorrow maybe a seat or two in YOUR county.”
Ingoglia said he made phone calls and checked facts before any comments or reply to either email.
“I have personally spoken to the three Orange County House members that Mr. Oliver mentioned in his email,” he said. “As expected, all of them affirmed that no threats have ever been made to them and they too have no idea how this false rumor came about.”
Ingoglia added that the accusations were “unfortunate distractions that often happen in large families,” vowing that he is focused on the task at hand – “victory for all Republicans on the ticket in 2016.”