Ana Trinque, the leader of Hernando County's Republican Party for more than six years, unexpectedly resigned her post Thursday night.
The chairwoman of the party's executive committee, who was just elected to another term in December, called a special meeting of the committee to announce her decision, said Frank Colletti, a former party chairman.
Trinque, who did not return calls Friday seeking comment, told party leaders she wanted to spend more time with her family. She said she is expecting more grandchildren later this spring.
"She has devoted a tremendous amount of time," said Colletti, who will lead a search committee to find a replacement. "It's been years of hard work."
Trinque, a real estate agent, replaced Colletti in December 2002, besting veterans activist Jeffrey Johnston and promising big plans.
Her tenure ends after a triumphant 2008 campaign season.
In Hernando, the GOP trounced Democrats, winning all but one partisan race. The party now holds 13 of the 17 partisan posts at the local, state and federal levels.
The victories came as a result of a strong grass roots operation managed largely by Trinque. On Election Day, it came down to getting the base to the polls. Of the 10 precincts with the highest turnout in the 2008 election, Republicans held a majority in nine of them.
State Rep. Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, said Trinque contemplated stepping down for some time but wanted to see the party through the elections and last week's Lincoln Day fundraiser dinner.
"She was 110 percent committed to the Republican Party," said Schenck, who is also her business partner. "She put in countless hours and was a hard worker and brought us through a couple of tough election cycles."
But her term didn't come without incident. The party saw some minor fissures among the rank and file, and subtle divisions over the direction of the party still exist.
Home builder and government critic Blaise Ingoglia said that he was sure that the perceived split in the party and a recent spat with real estate agent Gary Schraut concerning the Lincoln Day dinner had nothing to do with Trinque's decision.
The news shocked most party activists. Republican county commissioners Dave Russell, John Druzbick, Jim Adkins and Jeff Stabins each said Friday afternoon they had not heard anything about Trinque's departure from the position.
"I am surprised,'' Druzbick said. "She was just re-elected to the position.''
Russell was also surprised but said that people don't understand how much time away from family and business a position like hers can take.
Born in Colombia, Trinque comes from a family in which politics were important. Her father's relatives were active in South American politics, while some on her mother's side were New Hampshire Republican stalwarts.
She said she was bitten by the Republican bug during the Reagan Revolution, when Ronald Reagan's conservatism excited her and motivated her to become more vocal on issues.
Praise for her leadership spanned political ledgers.
"She was good at staying on message — not that I agreed with that, but she stayed on it,'' said Jay Rowden, past chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee. "In fact, Republicans are in a lot of ways like Democrats. It doesn't take much to get them fighting with one another and she kept a handle on that."
Times staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. John Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6114.