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Former RPOF chair Leslie Dougher announces run for House District 19 seat

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Former Republican Party of Florida chair and current Clay County Chair Leslie Dougher is running for state House District 19, becoming the third Republican to get into the contest. HD 19 encompasses southern Clay County and all of Putnam, Bradford and Union counties.

“Today I am excited to announce my candidacy for House District 19,” Dougher said in a statement issued Tuesday night. “Hard work and determination will set our campaign apart and deliver a new voice in Tallahassee that will fight for the principles that Floridians value: job growth, lower taxes, and an exceptional education system.”

Dougher has served as chair of the Clay County Republican Executive Committee since 2008. She was then elected interim chair of the Republican Party of Florida in May of 2014, where she was in charge as the Republicans had another big year in Tallahassee, capturing the Governor’s Mansion and the other three Cabinet positions. Every Republican in the Legislature get reelected.

But despite that success, and despite the fact that she had the full backing of Rick Scott, she lost to Blaise Ingoglia this past January in retaining the party chair position. It was the first time in Florida history that  a governor’s pick for chair was not selected (though it was close, as she lost to Ingoglia by just one vote in the first round of balloting. She ended up losing 132-90).

HD 19 is currently occupied by Charles Van Zant, who is term-limited out in 2016. His wife, Katherine Van Zant, announced in December that she would be running to succeed her husband. Palatka resident Robert Bruce Mayes got into the race in March.

“Effective leadership in Tallahassee can only be accomplished after earning the trust of your constituents,”  Dougher says. “I plan to earn that trust face-to-face as I listen to the concerns of voters across the district and voice those concerns on the House floor in Tallahassee.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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