© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Florida GOP chair Evan Power discusses his new role, early voting, and the 2024 elections

Evan Power was named of the Republican Party of Florida on Jan. 8, 2024.
Used with permission
Evan Power was named of the Republican Party of Florida on Jan. 8, 2024.

In an interview with The Florida Roundup, Evan Power talked about his priorities heading into the 2024 elections as he takes over for Christian Ziegler.

Evan Power is the new chairman of the Florida Republican Party after replacing Christian Ziegler this week.

Power called on the party to oust Ziegler after a woman accused him of sexual assault as a Sarasota Police Department investigation continues.

Ziegler says he and the woman were involved in a consensual sexual relationship along with his wife, Sarasota County School Board member and Moms For Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler.

Ziegler denies the accusation and has not been charged.

In an interview Friday with Tom Hudson on The Florida Roundup, Power discussed his taking over as GOP party chair, and his priorities going into the 2024 elections — including early voting and maintaining the party's control in the state.

The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

What is your message to Florida Republicans who have seen the now former chairman accused of rape and admitted to being involved in a sexual three-way with his wife and another woman?

Well, the Republican Party is bigger than one person. And what you saw is the Republican Party moved very quickly, to get rid of our former chairman and to elect its successor, which is me. And we're moving forward and we've hit the ground running this week, continuing to run the party and moving it forward.

You were vice chair and you called for the meeting of the party's executive board in December and then the meeting this week that led to Ziegler's removal from office. Does the former chair have any role at all left with the party? Any job?

He is still the state committee man from Sarasota County , but he is not involved in the day-to-day running of our party any longer.

Voter registrations for Republicans under his leadership have far outpaced Democrats. Ziegler once tweeted, "the work is not done until there are no more Democrats in Florida." Is that a sentiment that you support?

Well, I think I want to continue registering Republicans, and I want to convert Democrats into Republicans. If you look at what's happening on our state government, Florida's leading the way, here locally and across the nation. We are the conservative beacon of freedom, and I think we need to just convince more and more Democrats that the Republican Party is where they want to be.

Is there space for Democrats in Florida? It didn't seem like your predecessor had any space in Florida for the opposing party.

I think we always like to hear differing opinions. But it's our job as a party to is to win elections. And we've been doing a very good job of that. And we hope to continue winning big.

What are your priorities as you take over the chairmanship of the Republican Party at this moment in Florida?

The No. 1 job I have is to fundraise. We've hit the ground running there. And the second part is to build infrastructure to turn out Republican voters. We were able to win by 20 points in 2022, because we turned out our voters much better than Democrats did. So we want to build that infrastructure so we continue turning out Republicans and winning big races.

How does the governor's presidential ambitions impact efforts to raise money for state candidates this election cycle?

Well, I think the attention that the governor and the former president both being from Florida and being presidential candidates puts a spotlight on Florida. And it's allowed us to sell what is happening here in Florida. We really are the beacon of freedom for the rest of the country.

Talk a little bit more about this infrastructure that you mentioned in terms of voter turnout. How do you envision that working as we move into the March primary, and importantly, into the general election in November?

What we want to do is let everyone know how they can vote, whether that's by mail, early voting or on Election Day. Make sure that they know what they need to do, and then continue to turn out those voters by following up with them in person, via text message, via email, and just making sure we turn out every eligible Republican to vote for our candidates.

You mentioned the three ways to vote there — early voting, Election Day, and vote by mail. A former Republican Party chair, a predecessor of yours and the current state senator, Blaise Ingoglia, has proposed a bill that would do away with most vote-by-mail ballots. His proposal would essentially have voters swear that they cannot vote in person or vote on Election Day or early voting. Is this an effort you support?

I think it's something that people are looking at, how to safely count all the ballots and how to safely have people vote. I'm happy to have that conversation. But what the law is now is we have mail early and Election Day. And we're going to do the best to play within the rules as they exist today to build infrastructure and get people to vote in the ways that they feel comfortable.

As you are looking to build party infrastructure in this election year for the Republican Party in Florida, what role do you see vote by mail playing into the November election?

We've invested heavily in that in some of the special elections, and we'll continue to do that, as it's an available option. I think that it's important for us to get people to request those vote-by-mail ballots, even if they take those ballots to turn them in at an early-voting location or a precinct. Because having that ballot and allowing us to chase them is a benefit for us because we have much better infrastructure to turn out voters than the Democrats do.

In 2020, about one out of every three registered Republican voters voted by mail, and about one out of every two Democrats did. Is any effort to curtail vote by mail voter suppression?

Well, if you look at that number more historically, Republicans over a lot of period of time have voted by mail in higher numbers than Democrats. That changed of course, during COVID. So I think you have to look at it long-term. I think what Republicans are trying to focus on is making sure that when people vote, they vote securely, and that we're making sure we're identifying and accounting for who is casting those ballots so that there's an election integrity in place for for our elections.

As you have the ear of Republican candidates as the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, I suspect that you get your text messages or voicemails returned to you pretty quickly by candidates. What are the issues that you want the candidates to address, that you are hearing from voters?

Well, if you listen to most voters, they feel that under the Joe Biden administration, they're less safe, they're less prosperous, and they're less hopeful. And so Republican candidates need to show people that when Republicans are in charge, things are more affordable, the economy's better, they get paid better. And if we focus on those pocketbook issues, we're going to win, because the Biden administration has really let the American people down.

Well, we have seen historically low unemployment in the state of Florida during a Republican governorship with Governor DeSantis and a Democratic president in the United States.

Well, I think Florida keeps winning no matter who's in charge. Imagine what we could do if if a Republican president was in charge also.

I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.