All that whining and wringing of hands over the Republican Party of Florida's presidential primary rule changes, and look what happened. Nothing but good.
All thanks to Blaise Ingoglia. The once formidable World Poker Tour player, chairman of the RPOF, showed he's still got nerve for the game, pulling off a Presidency 6-to-Sunshine Summit switcheroo, making GOP candidates qualify to be on the primary ballot in Florida by gathering petitions, paying up or showing up.
You can see how it worked out.
They're all aboard. Thirteen of the 15 candidates including every one of the top contenders chose to show up in Orlando at the Summit next week. It's turned into a very big deal.
Ingoglia these days is a Sunshine Summit cheerleader in the national media. After Chris Christie and Ron Paul signed on for the event, for instance, the Daily Caller newspaper quoted him on the front page in large, bold type: “With eight candidates announced to attend, and more to come, the Sunshine Summit is turning out to be the can’t-miss event of the primary election.”
That was always his goal. Critics who said it was all about raising money for a party desperately in arrears, or embarking on a Blaise Ingoglia personal power trip were full of baloney.
It looks like vision to me.
The 2015 Sunshine Summit Nov. 12-14 is expected to draw 2,500 Republicans from throughout Florida. In time, with this new rule in place, the event could become as heady and kinetic and worthy of world attention in the Republican race as the 40,000-strong Iowa Fair is now.
Finally the party is showing that Florida is competitive, it's a prize and should be treated as such. It's saying, you want to be on the ballot? Come and engage the electorate. Show your face to Florida's Republican grassroots. What could be fairer to voters than that. Florida, remember, is the largest swing state up for grabs in the 2016 presidential election.
Candidates can prove themselves here. "(Working to win Florida) is also a test of organizational strength,” Ingoglia has said. “The person who can mount a good ground game here in Florida is a campaign that’s going to be ready for the general election.”
He got all of this so right.
I figure now is a good time to give Blaise Ingoglia a deserved shout-out. He took a chance, played out his hand under considerable pressure and won one for Florida. What fun this event is going to be.
Reach Nancy Smih at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith