BROOKSVILLE — In the past half-dozen years Blaise Ingoglia has become a polarizing political figure without ever seeking office.
That changed Tuesday when the 42-year-old Spring Hill home builder and vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida filed to run for the state House of Representatives.
And on Wednesday, flanked by four of Hernando County's five county commissioners and other prominent Republicans, Ingoglia announced his bid for District 35. The district covers most of Hernando County and is currently held by Rep. Rob Schenck, who must leave office because of term limits.
"Together we can continue to create jobs and future prosperity while still looking out for the taxpayers, consumers, teachers and those who wear a badge and put their lives on the line everyday protecting us from harm," Ingoglia said.
Ingoglia's bid is likely to discourage other Republicans from entering the race. But his prominence in the party could be a liability, said state Rep. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who represented parts of Hernando County for 18 years.
A former state committeeman, Fasano said he found out firsthand that a partisan resume can be a burden when running for office.
"His deep involvement as a Republican will not be favored by the independent voters and the middle-of-the-road and conservative Democrats of Hernando County," Fasano said.
Tom Hogan Sr., Hernando's longtime Republican state committeeman, dismissed Fasano's statement.
"Blaise will appeal to the taxpayers and get votes from both parties," Hogan said.
Born in Queens N.Y., Ingoglia is a home builder and former tournament poker player, whose Hartland Homes prospered during the real estate boom partly by selling to out-of-town speculators.
Ingoglia's public life began in 2007, when he drew praise and criticism for his "Government Gone Wild" seminars that chronicled what he described as wasteful spending by the county.
Ingoglia raised his profile the following year by spending his own money to help unseat Democrats Diane Rowden and Chris Kingsley from the County Commission. He joined the Hernando REC in early 2009 and won the chairman's job in a special election later that year. He was re-elected in 2010 and again in January.
As he ran the local party, Ingoglia expanded the scope of the "Government Gone Wild" seminars to target the federal government.
In 2011, he was elected as interim vice chairman of the state party. He was re-elected to the post in January.
Ingoglia's bid for public office raises the stakes for Democrats to field a viable candidate, said Steve Zeledon, chairman of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee.
"That's just what we need, another home builder in Tallahassee, and a gambler to boot, to destroy the rest of the environment," Zeledon said.
Reach Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.