1. Florida Politics

Ingoglia dreams of painting Florida red

Rick Scott and Donald Trump, via Twitter
Rick Scott and Donald Trump, via Twitter
Published Jan. 8, 2017

Florida's Republican Party chairman says if he is re-elected next week, he will put a full-court press on increasing the GOP voter registration numbers in hopes of officially giving Florida more registered Republicans than Democrats for the first time in history.

Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, a state representative from Hernando County, said it likely cannot be done in two years, but by the next presidential election, he said Florida could finally be majority Republican.

"Today, I would like to formally announce Project Majority Red — our next big aspirational goal," Ingoglia said in an email blast to Republican activists. "It will have one singular purpose, as we continue to win elections up and down the ballot, to make Florida a 'majority red' state by not only overtaking the Democrats in voter registrations, but keeping it that way for future elections."

Currently, Democrats have 4.9 million voters, Republicans have 4.6 million. Another 3.5 million voters are registered with neither political party.

Ingoglia's pledge comes just over a week before he stands before the Republican Party of Florida's activist base to seek a second term as the party leader. Ingoglia is being challenged by Sarasota Republican Christian Ziegler and Lafayette County Republican Alan Levy at the Jan. 14 election.

Crist misses vote

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on Thursday sent out one of the weirder press releases we've seen. The release announced that Crist missed a vote on a measure he supported condemning a U.N. resolution seen as anti-Israel. He "was unfortunately delayed in arriving to the House floor," the statement said, even including a quote from Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, calling the former governor a "great friend of Israel."

In a followup phone interview, Crist told us he missed the vote because he didn't give himself enough time to walk from his office to the Capitol and was "detained" by people in the halls wanting to chat.

"I'm sorry. It happens. Now I know better. I have to give myself more time," the rookie Democrat from St. Petersburg told the Tampa Bay Times.

The master scheduler

Caroline Wiles, daughter of Jacksonville-based lobbyist and political consultant Susie Wiles, will serve as Donald Trump's White House director of scheduling. Wiles has served in that role for the campaign since July 2016 and had done a similar job on Rick Scott's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. She attended Flagler College.

Scotts to host a ball

Gov. Scott and his wife, Ann, will host an inaugural ball in Washington, D.C., two days before Trump is sworn in as president. Though state political parties often organize inaugural balls, this one is being put together by Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work. The ball will take place at 8 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

The ethics vote

It took a while, but here is a mostly complete list on how Florida Republicans sided on the controversial attempt to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, a move that overshadowed Tuesday's opening of the 115th Congress. The House Republican Conference voted 119-74 Monday to approve a rules package with changes, but that vote was secret.

Some Florida members publicly disclosed how they voted, others responded to questions from the Times and other news outlets.

Gus Bilirakis: "I opposed this measure from the very beginning, and I am glad to see that it will not have a place in the 115th Congress. I am confident that this House will continue to hold Members to the highest ethical standards, fully accountable to the people. The public's trust must never be taken for granted."

Dennis Ross: "Rep. Ross opposed the change to the rules, which collectively led to Goodlatte's OCE amendment being stripped from the package."

Vern Buchanan: "Vern did not attend the meeting last night when this change was approved, but he agrees with the decision to strip the language from the rules package because Congress should be focused on tax reform, fighting terrorism and improving the lives of ordinary Americans."

Tom Rooney: "We're not commenting on this one," a spokeswoman said.

Matt Gaetz: Voted against.

Neal Dunn: Voted against but qualified his response to say he lacked information.

Ted Yoho: Not present.

John Rutherford: Opposed.

Ron DeSantis: Opposed.

Bill Posey: No response.

Daniel Webster: Voted against.

Brian Mast: His spokesman said he voted against the change, though the lawmaker told USA Today that he sympathizes with concerns about the OCE. "I get it (but) I didn't think it was the right time and place for it," he said.

Francis Rooney: Not present.

Mario Diaz-Balart: Voted against.

Carlos Curbelo: Voted for.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Voted for.

Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.