Fellow REC Members, Conservatives, and Friends,
I hope each of you had a Happy Thanksgiving and were able to spend time with family and friends. There is so much to be thankful for, especially our family, our faith, our freedom, and our prosperity. In particular, as Republicans we can be thankful for important victories at the federal, state, and local level. The results of this election preserved the principles and institutions that make America the greatest nation on earth and I am thankful for everything you have done to be a part of that effort.
Today is December 1 and it is the day I officially begin my term as your Republican State Committeeman. I am immensely thankful to the over 9,000 St. Lucie County Republicans who expressed their confidence in me in the August Primary. Regardless of whether you voted for me or not, I can assure you I am 100% committed to growing our party and I will work hard to earn your trust over the next four years.
As I begin my term, I wanted to update you on several items and goals I would like our Republican team to accomplish as we enter the coming year:
1. St. Lucie County Election Results 2016
Congratulations to our all of our Republican candidates for running strong campaigns. Every Republican who ran, especially those who ran in our partisan races, played an important part of getting our Republican message out and your candidacy made our party stronger. Thank you!
Here is a breakdown of some of the results and my notes:
President: Donald J. Trump became the first Republican Presidential candidate to win in St. Lucie County since George H.W. Bush won in 1992. Turning St. Lucie County red again is a huge victory and you should all be proud of everything you committed to this effort.
US Senate: Marco Rubio easily sent Patrick Murphy into retirement with a strong re-election campaign. Despite the fact that Murphy represented the Treasure Coast in Congress, Senator Rubio was able to hold Congressman Murphy under 50% and come within 2.5% of winning St. Lucie County.
US Congress: Not only do we have a new Republican Congressman, Brian Mast also won St. Lucie County. Brian is not just solid on the issues – he has already proven to be very committed to our area. His personal story inspires many and he is sure to be a rock star in Congress.
State Senate 25: Joe Negron easily won re-election to another term in the State Senate. Joe’s election to the Senate Presidency will greatly benefit the Treasure Coast and the entire state of Florida.
State House: Gayle Harrell won a hard-fought re-election very comfortably. This is a great win for the Treasure Coast as Gayle will be able to leverage her experience and position in the majority to benefit all of us. Rep. Erin Grall also won a seat representing the northern portion of St. Lucie County. Democratic Rep. Larry Lee went unchallenged and was re-elected without opposition.
City Council: I recently was able to attend the swearing in ceremony for our new Republican majority on the Port St. Lucie City Council. Congratulations to Jolien Caraballo, John Carvelli, and Stephanie Morgan on your big wins. Jeremiah Johnson also had a great win in the city of Fort Pierce – winning the seat outright in the primary election and avoiding a race in November. I look forward to working with all of you.
Judicial Races: As many of you know, I was a passionate supporter of Ed Alonzo for county court Judge hosting a fundraiser for him in the primary and managing his direct mail effort. Alonzo was able to achieve a comfortable win (about a 3,750 vote margin out of about 43,096 votes cast) against a seated incumbent judge. In the circuit race, we had a field that was an embarrassment of riches. Michael McNicholas worked very hard and he won the election. Voters also rightly chose to keep Judge McCann. Congratulations to all!
School Board: It was obvious from the results of these races that there is a very real appetite for change. Although both incumbents won re-election, in particular, Jennifer Richardson put up a very strong challenge to long-time incumbent Katherine Hensley. Richardson came within 382 votes of a huge victory.
Constitutional & County Offices: Howard Fein and Bobby Hopkins were two of the hardest-working Republican candidates I have ever seen. Thanks to both of you for having the courage to put your name on the ballot and carry the Republican banner.
On a personal note, my wife and I were pleased to support 16 strong candidates financially this year, with contributions totaling $1,165 at all levels from US Congress to City Council. Over 81% of them won their election to office. Our contribution to each campaign was small, averaging about $73. Just a reminder that no matter how much you can give – chipping in what you can and showing support as much as you can is the important thing.
2. The December Organizational Meeting:
Our organizational meeting will be held on December 6th, 2016, at the Treasure Coast Builders Association at 6:30 P.M. A reminder that this month’s meeting is on the first Tuesday of the month rather than the second.
Many have asked questions about how the December organizational meeting will operate.
Per the constitution, the meeting will be called to order and the first order of business will be to elect a Chairman. Only those members who had previously filed their paperwork with the Supervisor of Elections and have been officially elected are eligible will be eligible to serve as Chairman and will be eligible to vote. The results are final and are not subject to recall. After the election of officers, we can begin conducting other business.
See below for the guidelines regarding the organizational meeting from our County Constitution for your reference:
ARTICLE IV: Organizational Meeting and Election of Officers
Section 1 – The outgoing chairman of the Republican County Executive Committee shall, within thirty (30) days after the committee members take office (December 1), call an organizational meeting for the purpose of electing officers. It shall be the responsibility of the outgoing chairman to open the meeting, and the first order of business shall be the election of the chairman and vice-chairman as set forth in the rules and bylaws as promulgated by the State Executive Committee. Thereafter, the new chairman shall preside, and the agenda shall include, but not limited to, the election of a secretary and a treasurer, the filing of any vacancies on the committee, and any other business which may appropriately come before the committee.
The above officers shall be members of the County Executive Committee, and all county party officers shall be elected for a two year term. At the conclusion of each two year term officers shall be elected in the same manner as is required at the organizational meeting. Officer elections held at the organizational meetings are final and are not subject to recall.
I know that regardless of the election results, we can come together to advance conservative principles and paint St. Lucie County red.
3. Republican Party of Florida October 2016 Quarterly Meeting
My wife & I attended the Republican Party of Florida’s Quarterly meeting and Statesman’s dinner October 14th and 15th. I had the opportunity to attend several engaging sessions:
- Faith-Based Engagement Committee: The group discussed strategies for engaging pastors in the 2016 election. It was pointed out that pastors have not only the right, but the responsibility, to instruct church members on applying Christian principles in the voting booth. I plan to remain active with this committee and focus on Church voter registration efforts in the coming year.
- Digital Engagement Committee: The Chairman of our State Committeemen and Women caucus gave a great presentation about how to leverage social media for our REC. I’d like to begin implementing a lot of what was in his presentation at the local level.One idea in particular that I thought was brilliant involved the distribution of voter guides. In Sarasota County, rather than mailing out a printed voter guide to targeted households here is what they do. The Executive Committee agrees on recommendations for candidates in all races (they include judicial, but I want additional clarification from RPOF legal before recommending that) and all amendments or referendums. The nonpartisan races, amendments and referendums are among the top reasons the voter guide is relevant. The party then uploads a list of Republican super-voters to Facebook and runs lead generation ads to the voters on that list. In order to view the sample ballot, voters have to provide their email address. In addition to communicating the Republican choices to the most likely voters, the Sarasota digital program costs less money than a mailed ballot and helps them grow their email list – emails that can be used for fundraising, future digital advertising, and boosting attendance at events.
- Southeast Florida Caucus: There was not much business conducted at this meeting, but it was a great opportunity to meet with fellow committee members from our area and spend time with National Committeewoman Sharon Day.
- State Committeemen and Women Caucus Meeting: I was able to attend the meeting and meet with many of my long-time friends and associates who were elected to the committee across the state. As far as discussion, we talked through a nuanced loyalty oath issue and some minor changes to bylaws. We also had some fun with the press in the room, chanting support for Donald Trump so loudly it could be heard in the Chairman’s caucus.
- Meeting with Chairman Ingoglia: Chairman Blaise Ingolgia held a meeting of all newly-elected State Committeemen and State Committeewomen. A little more than half a dozen of us attended as the Chairman explained how the RPOF works and our responsibilities as committee members.
- Direct Mail for Fundraising Dollars: A great presentation on how to raise money by sending letters to our prospecting/donor list. In the first part of the year, I look forward to working with other members of REC leadership to explore putting together a pilot direct mail fundraising campaign.
- Trump Campaign Update: We received an update from Chairman Ingolgia and Deborah Cox Roush about the final three weeks of the campaign and what we could do to help.
- Statesman’s Dinner: A very nice evening in support of the Republican Party of Florida. Enjoyed inspiring talks from Senator Marco Rubio and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence.
4. Republican Party of Florida January 2016 Quarterly Meeting
This is a reminder that the Republican Party of Florida will be holding their annual meeting on January 13th and 14th at the Rosen Centre in Orlando. I’d like to encourage you all to attend!
Elections for RPOF officers, including State Party chairman, will take place there and the annual meeting is almost always one of the best opportunities to engage with fellow Republicans across the state.
Please let me know if you are interested in attending so we can coordinate. I will be in touch with any additional information about the meeting agenda as I receive it.
5. Republican Party of Florida Chairman Election
At the upcoming Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting, there will be an election for Chairman and other party officers. There are two leading contenders for the post: current Chairman Rep. Blaise Ingoglia and Christian Ziegler – the Chairman of the State Committeemen and Committeewomen. Both are great candidates and our party is in good hands with either of them.
Christian Ziegler has been a very effective Chairman of the State Committeemen and Committeewomen’s caucus. I came to know Christian during my campaign for state committeeman, where I quickly saw what a resource he was to both me and the existing State Committee members. Christian always makes himself available to answer any questions. If he doesn’t know the answer, he finds the answer or connects you with the right person. Christian was an early and enthusiastic supporter of President-elect Trump and has great ideas to leverage things like digital to grow our party.
It was a tough decision, but I have personally committed to supporting our current Chairman, Blaise Ingoglia in the election. Blaise has been a very effective Chairman of our party. The training sessions at the RPOF quarterly were informative and he has also been a very helpful resource. Blaise made a promise to make Florida red again, he united the party, and he delivered.
6. Florida Right to Life
If you are interested in receiving The Life Pulse, a local pro-life newsletter, please send me an email and I will make sure you receive this weekly publication.
I attended the Florida Right to Life Board Meeting at Winter Park’s St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in October where there was much discussion on the 2016 election and our efforts to elect pro-life candidates. It was noted the PAC had great success in the primary. 70% of supported US House candidates, 100% of supported State Senate candidates, and 60% of supported State House candidates won their primaries.
The next Florida Right to Life Board Meeting is Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM at Calvary Assembly Church in Winter Park, FL.
7. Lincoln Day Dinner
With uncertainty about will be leading the local party as Chairman, I have begun working to secure a Lincoln Day Dinner Speaker for 2017 and have secured a soft commitment. I cannot provide any additional details at this time, but if this does come through, it’s going to take all of us working together to ensure a successful event. More details in the coming months as it is critical we hold this important fundraiser this year. Please let me know if you would like to get involved on the planning committee.
8. Inauguration Tickets
I will make you aware of any other opportunities I become aware of to apply for tickets.
9. Councilwoman Michelle Berger Retirement Party
I had the opportunity to attend outgoing Republican City Councilwoman Michelle Berger’s retirement party on Sunday, November 20th. Thank you to Michelle for 12 years of service to the city of Port St. Lucie.
10. REC Website
I will be proposing at an upcoming REC meeting, either December or January, that we begin working on a new REC website. I am hopeful we can find a company that is willing to do this in-kind or at a very low cost. It’s critical that our new website has the a fresh modern look that allows people to contribute online, facilitates email list growth, includes re-marketing opportunities, and features our candidates and elected officials. Please let me know if you have any ideas for moving this process along or if there are any features you would like included.
11. Midterm Elections
There are very important elections coming up in the midterm and we must already be focused on winning if we are to achieve victory.
Here’s a preview of what’s coming up:
In 2018, we have the opportunity to unseat Senator Bill Nelson and we must defend all of our cabinet seats. There will be a whole new slate of candidates running for Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Chief Financial Officer. Locally, we’ll have to defend our two Republican seats on the County Commission. We’ll have to elect a freshman Representative to replace Gayle Harrell and a freshman Senator to replace Joe Negron. Democrats are sure to target our newly elected Congressman Brian Mast. And there will be many other important races as well.
I look forward to working with each and every one of to make sure we are just as successful in 2018 as we were this year in 2016.
Thanks for taking the time to read this report!
Republican State Committeeman
St. Lucie County, FL