Expect a wild ride with Ingoglia
Today we get to experience a little political perception.
This day is hugely significant to many people across the state. Yet others wouldn’t even know about it if someone like me didn’t tell them.
It’s the first day of Session.
I see your blank stares.
Let me help.
It’s Day One of the Legislature’s Regular Session at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. Barring any need to extend it, Session runs 60 days and it’s during this time we cram in all the new laws. It’s an exhausting process (or, the Process).
We don’t talk much about the Legislature around here, and I don’t recall paying a whole lot of attention to Session during my Chronicle days. The Process is something to witness; being unable to do that with any regularity means it's virtually impossible trying to make sense of it. It would be like covering the county commission without ever attending a commission meeting.
That long-winded excuse aside, I’m probably paying more attention to this Session than any other. I’m coming off a pretty decent first election season under the Just Wright Citrus flag and that included getting to know Blaise Ingoglia (we’ll get to him in a minute) and being able to view Ralph Massullo from a different perch.
Writing for Florida Politics — man, that’s a blessing. Publisher Peter Schorsch has a stable of the best political writers assembled statewide and they cover state politics in a way I've never seen. Session is a very big deal to Florida Politics. Nothing is missed.
Like I said, they’re the best. And I get to play a role in that, so I want to learn what I can, you know?
And that's when Ingoglia showed up.
I knew, just KNEW, back during the campaign that he was going to be unlike any other senator we’ve had. Much different than Nancy Argenziano, if you’re going there. I’ll explain.
I met Blaise 10 years ago during the Government Gone Wild days. After that, I’d see his name every so often — state Republican chairman, elected to the House — but Blaise got to be known as much for who he was as for his politics.
He is brash, pushy and says outrageous things. On purpose.
That in itself isn’t unusual for someone in the majority party, right? The previously mentioned Argenziano was known for her confrontational approach while in the Senate and then on the Public Service Commission.
But she was never a party favorite and when Argenziano, by now the member of an obscure third party, went up against Jimmie T. Smith and a Republican party bent on revenge, it ended in an ugly loss.
Ingoglia has the one thing neither Argenziano nor her predecessors had.
Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t just of the same party, he and Ingoglia think alike. Remember, Ingoglia and Massullo were headed for a Senate District 11 showdown in 2022 when DeSantis ended that by endorsing Ingoglia. These two are clearly on the same page.
And same arrogant personalities. Look. All politicians are arrogant to some degree — they need it to survive in that business.
Then there’s the arrogance that’s actually a swagger, an air of confidence that says the game’s already over before kickoff. Both the governor and our senator carry that swagger and it's an attitude voters find endearing.
Too much of it, though, makes people nervous.
Some of my politically connected Citrus County friends are aghast to see me buddying up to Ingoglia. I sent someone a photo of me and Blaise with the subject line: “Future governor.” Came the reply: “Hope not.”
Another noted that after six years of Wilton Simpson representing Citrus, including two as Senate president, Ingoglia is a wild card. Emphasis on wild.
Ingoglia, an amateur Vegas poker player in his free (?) time seems to relish the role of spoiler. How else to explain a bill he filed last week that would cancel the state Democratic Party because it supported slavery 150 years ago? What is that other than a poke in the eye? A guest column in the local newspaper could have said the same thing, but Ingoglia’s approach sends a message.
His influence is catching. This year, for the first time, he made Florida Politics’ list of the 25 most powerful politicians in Tampa Bay.
Too early to say what Blaise means for us. The annual Citrus County Legislative Days are in two weeks. That’s plenty of time for a hint.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.