Former State Rep. Kurt Kelly enters race for RPOF chair

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Former State Rep. Kurt Kelly threw his hat into the ring for chair of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF).

Kelly made the announcement to 67 county executive committees in a letter delivered today.

“After much deliberation, prayer and encouragement from many within our membership, I am pleased to announce my candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida,” he wrote. “Over the next few weeks I look forward to presenting my vision for our party’s future.”

From 2006-2010, Kelly represented House District 24, which covered the Ocala region. Currently, he serves in a number of roles: Marion County’s State Committeeman, Chair of the 11th Congressional District and as Chief Executive Officer for the Florida Coalition for Children, a statewide organization assisting abused and neglected children.

If elected chair, Kelly vows to “bring the highest integrity to the office and a leadership style that engages and encourages the local parties and volunteers.”

“Frankly, great chairs of the past like Tom Slade and others armed with these skill sets led the party to new heights and gave us a solid foundation,” Kelly wrote. “I am excited to accept the challenge of seeking the opportunity to serve you and leading our party.”

Kelly will be facing incumbent RPOF chair Leslie Dougher, who recently won the endorsement Gov. Rick Scott. Dougher was a key player in Scott’s re-election victory in November. Also in the race are Eric Miller of Martin County, who challenged Dougher in a close vote last May, and newly elected state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia from Hernando County.

The election of the RPOF chair will take place in Orlando next month.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.