DeSantis and Gruters clashed at the start of the governor’s term, and the competition between the two men was no secret.
In October 2019, Gruters canceled the statesman’s dinner, the party’s largest annual fundraiser. The party even announced the move on Twitter when DeSantis chief of staff Shane Strum asked Gruters to wait for the governor to negotiate to insure Trump.
The resignation angered DeSantis. A day later, he blinded Gruters by telling reporters that the incident was still going on, with Trump as boss.
When DeSantis made the announcement, Gruters phoned party leaders who were doing redress.
Around the same time, DeSantis tried to reduce Gruters ’pay.
Gruters admitted he didn’t have a close relationship with DeSantis, but said things have improved over the past year.
The Florida GOP has in the past chosen chairs without the support of the governor, with disastrous results. In 2015, the party elected state representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) to replace Leslie Dougher, who was governor at the time. Rick Scott’s hand-picked chair.
As a result, Scott pulled his awesome fundraising machine out of the party, making it shocking and shattered.
Gruters stormed Republicans last week as he tweeted between Florida Senator Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat and a potential challenger for DeSantis.
“@SenPizzo is a thoughtful and hard-working member who is able to work in the aisle, as well as a successful businessman and an advocate of free market and Florida progress policies,” – Gruters tweeted. – Definitely not a socialist.
Pizzo, on Twitter, Gruters asked opinion.
Gruters later that day tweeted that DeSantis would “crush Senator Pizzo and I won’t have a problem hitting him if he does run,” but the damage has happened.
Many Republicans saw the tweet as a harmful strategic mistake after Republicans successfully branded Democrats socialists. The label is political kryptonite in South Florida, where immigrants have come from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, many of whom have fled the left-wing strongman regimes.
When President-elect Joe Biden won Miami-Dade County by just 7 points, Republicans attributed the entry to introducing Democrats as socialist sympathizers.
“This last election was a referendum on socialism. Gruters just handed Pizzo his top talk point and all the votes Biden lost in Miami-Dade. “The president of the GOP doesn’t open the way to the governor’s castle every day for a Democrat.”
Gruters, who was also an elected state senator, twice helped Trump win Florida and was named the Republican Party of the Year by Sarasota County three times before 2016. Gruters is president of the Sarasota GOP.
The list of potential Gruters challengers includes Leon County GOP President Evan Power, who considered running for the chair before the party elected Gruters in 2018, and Matt Caldwell, a state representative who was less likely in 2018. lost the offer to the Commissioner for Agriculture by more than 7,000 votes.
Caldwell, the only state Republican who lost that year, said the party made strategic blunders that put it in its race.
“I was shocked that there was no pre-planned campaign on the Wednesday following the pre-election,” Caldwell said in a Monday interview. “I thought a bus was going to stop at the front door, and someone was saying, ‘Get in, ten weeks of spring is waiting for you.’ But everyone was themselves.
“It may be one thing in senate and governing campaigns that have a lot of resources, but it doesn’t always work in cabinet competitions,” he said.
In 2020, Power gave credit to DeSantis, who he said “was a great success for the Florida Republican Party in this cycle and made a huge investment in voter registration”.
Gary Fineout contributed to the report.