BROOKSVILLE — Last year, home builder and professional poker player Blaise Ingoglia argued through his "Government Gone Wild'' seminars that Hernando government was on a bloated spending spree.
At the final 2007 county budget hearing, Ingoglia vowed to spend $25,000 of his own money to unseat the incumbents in this year's County Commission races because, he said, they had not done enough to provide tax relief for property owners.
On Thursday, Ingoglia announced how he would make good on that promise.
In a new video he has posted at www.takehernandoback.com, Ingoglia takes aim at Democratic commission incumbents Diane Rowden and Chris Kingsley. Republican incumbent Jeff Stabins, also on the November ballot, is not mentioned in the video or on the Web site.
The video is a key part of a larger media campaign Ingoglia said he has launched to question the leadership skills of Rowden and Kingsley. The price tag on his campaign tops $28,000.
Ingoglia plans to pour that money into the airing of a 30-second television commercial across cable news channels beginning Monday. Also planned are radio commercials and use of a mobile advertising truck.
In addition, Ingoglia has sent out postcards to about 10,000 property owners in Hernando who have bought their homes since 2005, and additional fliers and yard signs are planned to send people to the Web site and deliver the message that Kingsley and Rowden must go.
"I'm doing this because of my promise last year that I am going to look out for residents of Hernando County,'' Ingoglia said Thursday.
In the 22-minute video, Ingoglia repeats many of his "Government Gone Wild'' arguments and displays the headlines from recent months as the county has endured a variety of scandals, ranging from charges of racism in the Utilities Department to the firing of the county's emergency management director to the recent termination of the property manager for making obscene phone calls.
Ingoglia sets the blame for those events and the oversized government squarely at the feet of Rowden and Kingsley.
"Anyone who would watch that video and still vote for Rowden and Kingsley would have to be awfully partisan or awfully uninformed,'' Ingoglia said.
Both commissioners dismiss Ingoglia's campaign to unseat them.
Rowden has strongly defended her record, pointing to the commission's lowering of the property tax rate over the last several years. She also blasted Ingoglia, saying his history of building homes for investors to flip and encouraging people to buy homes they couldn't afford were the very activities that caused the housing boom and bust that has cut deeply into the economy.
"He was the builder, predator who preyed on these poor people,'' Rowden said. "He's the problem. He's not the solution.''
Kingsley called Ingoglia's new push "a Republican partisan campaign.''
Ingoglia denied that partisan politics had anything to do with what he is doing. When asked why Stabins wasn't included in his campaign to oust incumbents, he said there was a reason that would benefit Hernando County residents. But he said he would not reveal what that reason is until after the election.
Stabins said he didn't know why he got a pass on Ingoglia's campaign against incumbents. "I am still a Republican,'' he said.
On the new Web site, Ingoglia does endorse only Republican candidates, including Rowden's opponent, John Druzbick; Kingsley's opponent, James Adkins; the Republican running for supervisor of elections, Shirley Anderson, and Gene Magrini for School Board. While the school race is nonpartisan, Magrini is a registered Republican.
Kingsley said Ingoglia is trying to draw attention to his cause.
"He doesn't realize how inconsequential he is,'' Kingsley said. "He's got such a huge ego. This is all about Blaise. It's ranting from a narcissistic egomaniac.''
Kingsley said the record shows that tax rates are way down, county government now is working more efficiently than it has in a long time, and the commissioners have been responsive to their constituents.
As for Ingoglia's assertions to the contrary, Kingsley said: "He just wants to see himself on television.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.