Pinellas GOP chief Nick DiCeglie to run for head of state chairs

Florida Politics
December 13th 2016
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After successfully leading his county into the red in last month’s presidential election, newly re-elected Pinellas County Republican Party Executive Committee Chairman Nick DiCigle is thinking ‘bigly’ for 2017. At next month’s state party meeting in Orlando, he intends to run for the Chairman’s Caucus Chairman, the leader of all 67 county GOP leaders from across the state.

“My goal – if successful – is to share what worked for us here in Pinellas County with the other chairmen in the state of Florida,” DiCeglie said last week in an interview at the Pinellas GOP’s offices in Clearwater.

Initially elected in 2014 and re-elected Monday night, DiCigle says that unlike many other county chairs across the state, he has the luxury of being in a large county with a substantial donor base and other resources that he’s been able to adroitly tap into.

“I want to be able to share not on my successes and our successes here in the party, but to share those successes, so that collectively we can come together as a group of chairmen, (so) when these folks go back to their counties, they’re more knowledgeable, they’ve learned something, and they can improve what their doing locally, that’s the ultimate goal,” DiCigle says.

The Long Island native has been active with the Pinellas Republican Party since 2009. After a stint as vice chair, he was elected chairman of the REC in 2014 when he defeated two other challengers to take the reigns of the local party. His biggest accomplishment to date was leading Pinellas to go red for Donald Trump in last month’s presidential election, a significant development in comparison to 2012, when Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by nearly ten percentage points in the county.

DiCeglie is aware that some of the migration to the local Republican party in 2016 emanated directly from those attracted to Trump, and that some of those voters don’t necessarily have that strong of an allegiance to the GOP. His goal is to make them want to stay in the party.

“I think this is an opportunity for Republicans, and we have a responsibility as a local party as well to change minds, and as we change minds, and as things improve in this country, we’re going to be able to not only register Republicans as voters, we’re going to bypass the Dems by significant margins,” he says, adding that one of his goals over the next to years is to “identify, engage, communicate and motivate this new electorate.”

The next big thing in Pinellas when it comes to elections is the St. Petersburg Mayor’s race, taking place next November. And while Rick Kriseman has been struggling at City Hall regarding his handling of the sewage crisis, he still doesn’t appear to be in danger for re-election unless Rick Baker were to leave the private sector and run for the job he held from 2000-2009.

DiCeglie acknowledges that the list of potential challengers to Kriseman begins with Baker, but says if he doesn’t pull the trigger “there are other Republicans that we’re going to be engaging,’ though he says he can’t say who those people are just yet. He grows impassioned when discussing what he says has been a distressing lack of leadership at City Hall.

The GOP leader scoffs at the idea that the mayoral race is nonpartisan. “Tell that to Rick Kriseman,” he says. “He made that race extremely partisan four years ago,” referring to the tens of thousands of dollars that the Florida Democratic Party contributed to his campaign in 2013.

“We certainly want to play a role,” he says about the municipal election, where four City Council seats will also be on the ballot. “We don’t know exactly what that’s going to be, but there’s a significant concern about the direction about the city of St Petersburg, and we’re firm believers that any leader of mayor, who focuses on limited government and fiscally conservative values is certainly better than what we’re seeing right now.”

Regarding the election for state party chair, DiCeglie is a Blaise Ingoglia man, but says he’s friends with his challenger, Sarasota state committeeman Christian Ziegler. “They’re both great people, and either way, we’re going to have a very strong party coming into this next cycle, no question about it.”

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Florida elector not among those asking for intelligence briefing on Russia

December 12th 2016
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The reaction continues to pour in about reports from the CIA that Russia was involved in the 2016 Presidential election.

Some of the electors within the electoral college are asking to know more information about the reports involving President elect Donald Trump.

A group of electors have asked for an intelligence briefing wanting to know about Trump and Russia connections.

The electoral college votes one week from today.

“My email is up to 3000, to where folks are trying to convince me not to vote for Donald Trump,” said Nick Diceglie, one of Florida’s electors who will cast his vote next Monday.

When it comes to Trump and Russia, he doesn’t think there is a need for an intelligence briefing.

“First of all, I’m bound by the state rules to do [vote for Trump] but really much more importantly I’m voting the will of the people here in the state of Florida, ” said Diceglie.

But, several electors are asking the National Intelligence Director to release facts on outside interference in the US election.

The move comes after reports reveal the CIA says Russia was involved in the election by hacking the Democratic National Convention to try and influence voters.

“There’s no evidence that any of these elections in any of these states were impacted by anything that Russia did or any of this hacking,” added Diceglie.

The concern crosses party lines. Senator Marco Rubio showed his concern about the hacking in October.

“We cannot be a country where foreign intelligence agencies influence our political process,” said Senator Rubio.

Democratic strategist Barry Edwards said this shouldn’t be brushed off.

“We know for a certainty that in Russia, nobody would do something like this without the approval of Putin,” said Edwards.

“This is just another attempt by the Democrats to prevent Donald Trump from taking the oath of office on January the 20th,” said Diceglie.

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‘One hell of a feeling’: Local officials in the counties that determined the election explain Trump’s improbable victory

Business Insider
November 24th 2016
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As 3 a.m. was closing in on election night, Ron Ferrance sat in a crowded party for local Republican volunteers in the small town of Dallas, Pennsylvania.

The sun was on the cusp of rising. But Ferrance, the chair of the Luzerne County Republican Party, said no one was leaving.

Against all odds, the volunteers knew what was about to happen: Republican nominee Donald Trump was going to become president-elect, Pennsylvania would be the state that put him over the top, and their county played a monumental role in doing so.

“It was one hell of a feeling,” Ferrance told Business Insider. “It was a good night. I’ve worked on enough losing campaigns, so it was nice to put that one away.”

Trump’s win was the biggest political upset he’d ever seen.

“Oh, absolutely,” Ferrance said. “I’m 46 years old, so I don’t know if it’s going to get bigger than this again before I move on from this world. But it’s the biggest I’ve seen.”

More than 1,100 miles away, Nick DiCeglie had his “wow moment” almost a full 24 hours earlier.

DiCeglie is the chair of the Pinellas County Republican Party, a linchpin county in Trump’s Florida victory. He knew the signs were there for a “big day” at 8:15 a.m. on Election Day.

“We keep track of the absentee ballots being returned, tried to see where we were,” he said. “Going into Election Day [2012], we were down about 326 votes. This time we were down, I want to say a little over 700. We didn’t translate that to being down double — we knew we were going to have a big Election Day, knew Republicans were going to turn out, because we had a state poll that showed 62% of Republicans were going to vote on Election Day.

“That being said, by 8:15, we went from being down 725 votes to being up by over 2,000,” he continued. “And at that point, we were like hang on tight — this is going ot be a big day. By 4:00, we were up over 10,000 votes from just Election Day.”

Both Ferrance’s and DiCeglie’s counties flipped from their 2012 vote margins in favor of President Barack Obama by more than 31,000 votes to favor Trump. Trump won the two states by a roughly 188,000 votes combined.

It was in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, where the margin of victory for Trump was at times as thin as can be — so much so that Michigan has yet to be officially called — that he won the presidency.

In those states, only a handful of counties made the difference between what could have been — and what was expected, a President-elect Hillary Clinton — and the Trump reality that stunned much of the political world.

Business Insider spoke with party officials and pollsters in the most crucial counties within those states to see how the improbable Trump victory took place.

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David Jolly’s call for expanded early voting sites not shared by Pinellas GOP

OCtober 7th 2016
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The Charlie Crist–David Jolly matchup is one of the most keenly observed congressional races in the country. And while the two continue to engage in strong partisan rhetoric against each other, they did come together in common cause this week in calling on Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark to expand the number of early voting sites.

However, Clark still isn’t interested.

“She feels as though that our election plan provides equal ballot access to all Pinellas County voters,” said Jason Latimer, a spokesperson for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office.

Early voting begins in Pinellas County Oct. 24, and Clark has maintained she will open only five early voting locations in the county, a smaller amount than is happening in similarly sized counties around the state. While voting by mail has become more popular each election cycle, nowhere has that style of voting been employed more than in Pinellas, thanks in part to Clark’s efforts to encourage voters to do so.

Of the five previously announced early voting sites in Pinellas, none are located further south than Fifth Avenue North in downtown St. Petersburg. That’s prompted Democratic Party activists and elected officials like Crist and St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman to call for another site to be opened in South St. Pete. And on Wednesday they were joined by Jolly, who wrote to Clark asking, “that your office ensure that all communities throughout Pinellas County have equal access to early voting locations.”

Not all Republicans agree with Jolly on requesting Clark to expand early voting access, however.

“I think Deb Clark is doing an outstanding job as supervisor of elections and her plan for this election is incredibly fair and non-partisan,” says Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Nick DiCeglie. “The outreach her office has done in all communities over the last 16 years is a testament to her professionalism and non-partisanship. I encourage all voters who may have difficulties getting to an early vote location or to their neighborhood poll on election day to request an absentee ballot. It has never been easier for ALL voters to exercise their right to vote.”

Although Jolly and DiCeglie appear not to be on the same page regarding early voting, that’s not the worst thing in the world for the GOP incumbent. In a district that has been redrawn to make it much more Democratic friendly, Jolly has been campaigning as a representative who listens to the public, and not party leadership. That’s the same independent ethic that has created a fissure between himself and his party’s leadership in Washington D.C.

More than 2.6 million ballots were sent out to Florida voters this week, a record amount.

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