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GOP widens voter gap

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:29 PM

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The gap between registered Republican and Democrat voters in Hernando County has increased about fivefold between 2009 and today.

Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee, attributes that to the party being more active in the community, doing a better job of communicating its message and using social media to reach more people.

And that message resonating with people is that they don't need government to solve every private sector problem, Ingoglia said.

"The bigger government gets at any level, whether it be county, state or federal, the effect is that it ends up hurting people's lives, not helping people's lives," Ingoglia said.

The margin between registered Republicans and Democrats is currently 4,095, compared with 719 three years ago, according to supervisor of elections data.

With Tuesday's mainly Republican primary election ended, it is now time to rally behind the Republican candidates, Ingoglia said.

And that includes Republican Jason Sager, who Ingoglia believes will have an easy time defeating Democrat Diane Rowden.

"I think that any candidate taking on Diane Rowden is a strong candidate," Ingoglia said. "Spending under Rowden would make Nancy Pelosi blush," he added, referring to the U.S. House minority leader.

Ingoglia said the local Republican committee has raised more than $218,000 since he came on board, due mainly to attracting big-name speakers at Republican functions.

Past keynote speakers have included former presidential candidate Herman Cain; U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation; and Gov. Rick Scott.

Ingoglia has lined up Fox News commentator and contributor Dick Morris, West and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for the Sept. 27 Reagan Day dinner.

Ingoglia predicts this will be the seventh straight fundraising dinner to have in excess of 320 people.

"Once again we are showing that the Hernando County Republican Party is a political force," Ingoglia said. "We continue to smash local fundraising records while attracting big-name speakers to Hernando."

Hernando County, he said, has traditionally leaned conservative. Even Democrats, he said, are more conservative than their counterparts elsewhere.

Ingoglia said the sparse turnout for Tuesday's primary didn't surprise himbecause there was no marquee match-up on the ballot.

Turnout is traditionally light in primary elections, but that should change in November when people show up to vote in the presidential election, he said.

"The members of the Republican Executive Committee and the conservative grass-roots activists are the reason we have a successful organization," Ingoglia said. "Without them, these successes would not have been possible."

Not everyone is enamored of the local Republican Party.

Saying he can no longer support a party that has, in his words, waged an attack on women's rights, excluded minorities and tried to suppress voters, Paul Douglas has switched from being a Republican to a Democrat.

Douglas, first vice president of the local NAACP branch, said Republicans are trying to block women from obtaining contraceptives and plan to close the nongovernment organization Planned Parenthood, which he said offers health care for women.

He also said he doesn't believe the local Republican Party has the ability to lead Hernando County out of the current recession.

However, Douglas gives kudos to Ingoglia, who he believes "is steeped in his philosophy and is determined."

"I give Blaise Ingoglia 100 percent credit for energizing the base of the Republican Party here in Hernando County," Douglas said.

Douglas said the local Democratic Party needs to become better organized and make its presence known.

"We have some individuals in the Democratic Party that, if they hit their stride, can do as good a job or better in organizing as Blaise," Douglas said.

But the local Republican Party, he said, was not for him.

"The Republican Party in this county did not make me feel welcome," he said. "If you disagree with the true conservative ideology of the Republican Party, you're ostracized." (352) 544-5290

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