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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Donald Trump's campaign manager distrusts Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia -- maybe for good reason



Donald Trump's campaign manager appeared on Fox News Sunday and, almost out of the blue, blasted the Florida GOP's delegate selection process and suggested state party chairman Blaise Ingoglia can't be trusted to carry out the will of Florida's GOP primary voters:

Here's what Lewandowski said on Fox News Sunday:

...Here’s the problem with the rules, let me give you one example. In the state of Florida, Donald Trump dominated and won by 23 points over all of his competitors down there.  He was awarded 99 delegates under the party rules.  Of those 99 delegates, the chairman of the party of Florida, who is an avid and outward supporter of Marco Rubio, gets to appoint 30 of those delegates.  

Now, I understand those are the rules but Donald Trump won.  And now, you’Lewandowski got a person who is supporting Marco Rubio who gets to appoint 30 of the 99 delegates.

That’s not what the rules should be.  The rules should be that Donald Trump won 99 delegates and all 99 people, while they are bound on the first vote, we should have the opportunity to appoint those people.  

Lewandowski is off on some of his numbers Trump won Florida overwhelmingly, but by nearly 19 percent and not by 23 percent. And state GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia -- who has never publicly supported any presidential candidate - does not get to pick 30 of Florida's 99 delegates. 

Eighty-one delegates are elected by the local GOP leaders (three for each of Florida's 27 electoral districts), and of the remaining 18 at-large delegates, three are automatic: State Chairman Ingoglia, National Committeewoman Sharon Day, and National Committeeman Peter Feaman. The Chairman draws up a list of Republicans for the remaining 15 delegate slots that he recommends to the state party's executive board, which will vote in May

As to Lewandowski's larger point about Florida party bosses stacking the deck against him? He has cause for concern. When the stakes are as high as they are, paranoia is prudent. And Trumpeters have ample reason to be skeptical of the Florida GOP chairman's allegiances and motivations.

No, state Rep. Ingoglia has never publicly criticized Donald Trump, let alone declared himself a Marco Rubio backer. But in some respects the real leader of the state GOP is incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, just as traditionally the real leader for the past couple decades has always been the Republican governor. Today, however, the governor and state senate have pulled their finance operations out of the state party, leaving the Florida House as by far the most important source of funds for the state party. Corcoran, a Pasco County Republican, in other words wields tremendous influence over Ingoglia, both in the state party and in the Florida House. And Corcoran has voiced utter contempt for Donald Trump.

"What birthed the phenomenon of a candidate who in all definition of the word is running a quasi-repugnant campaign that is baseless? You have a candidate who has flip flopped on every issue,'' Corcoran said in a speech to the Florida Chamber in January.

"I ask people why are you supporting Donald Trump? You tell me whatever issue it is and I'll send you an issue of Donald Trump on the complete other side of that issue. You have a guy who has offended every other possible group known to mankind. He's insulted and offended women, Mexicans, Jewish people, disabled people, people in middle America. I don't know who he hasn't offended and somehow that's okay?"

So we can understand why, fairly or not, Trump's campaign is wary of delegates recommended by Ingoglia (and Corcoran). And they should be grateful their Trump's Florida co-chairman, state GOP Vice Chairman Joe Gruters, will be keeping a very close eye on this process.

"Our delegate selection process is local and decentralized, the way elections are meant to be held," said state party spokesman Wadi Gaitan. "In fact 81 of our 99 delegates are elected at the grassroots level within their congressional district by the three local Republican leaders of the counties that make up that district. The 15 at-large delegates, suggested by the Chairman, are elected by grassroots leaders that comprise our executive board - and no one else. This system ensures that no one person can exert a lot of influence over the selection process. "


[Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:54pm]


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