ower, 42, a lobbyist, is vice chairman of the state Republican Party and has been chairman of the Leon County Republican Party for nine years. He has support from the two key factions of Florida Republicans: Gov. Ron DeSantis and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Power became vice chairman of the state party after narrowly losing the race for chairman to Ziegler in February. He had previously lost a 2020 challenge to Feaman’s election as Florida’s national committeeman.

“I’m a county leader who has led a county party for the last 10 years. I’m battle-tested. I’m a guy that lives in blue county and we’ve won some competitive races,” Power said.

Even with the victories Florida Republicans have racked up in recent years, and Democrats lagging, Power said “there are places where we have work to do.”

That includes South Florida, where, Power said, “I think we can start flipping voters from Democrat to Republican” — even in the most Democratic county in the state. “I think Broward is the hardest egg to crack in that system, but it’s something we should spend time and effort working on.”

Nikki Fried, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said the outcome of the Republican leadership contest won’t produce anything positive.

“While I’m thrilled to see the Florida GOP finally cleaning house after the Ziegler scandal, it doesn’t really matter whether Evan or Peter leads the party moving forward. Both of them would keep pushing RPOF in the same direction: completely ignoring the real problems facing Floridians. While property insurance skyrockets and children lose healthcare, they’ll be too busy fighting their made up culture wars to put forward policies that would actually make Florida a safer, healthier, more affordable place to live,” Fried said via email.

Though the race is widely seen as a Feaman-Power contest, John A. Vacchiano, chairman of the Indian River County Republican Party, is also running.

“It’s because of this spiritual battle that we find ourselves in today that after much prayer and clear confirmation from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and my beautiful wife Alicia that I officially declare my intent to run for chairman of our Republican Party of Florida and ask that you would join with me in fighting this sacred fight to guide our party back to the truth of our Declaration of Independence and our United States Constitution,” Vacchiano said in announcing his candidacy in a YouTube video.


Feaman and Power have each touted a slew of prominent endorsements.

On Friday, power announced an endorsement from DeSantis. His others include U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who said “he will work tirelessly to ensure Republicans are elected up and down the ballot,” U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (and a contingent of other Florida members of Congress), and state Sens. Joe Gruters and Blaise Ingoglia. Gruters and Ingoglia are both former state party chairman.

Gaetz and Gruters are two of the state’s most prominent allies of former President Donald Trump.

Feaman endorsers include John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which advocates conservative positions that include combating abortion and LGBTQ rights. He described Feaman as a “rock-solid conservative who is very strategic.”

He also has endorsements from Carole Jean Jordan, state Republican Party chairwoman, and Harmeet Dhillon, who unsuccessfully ran for national Republican party chair in January 2023.

Who decides

The deciders are about 260 members of the state Republican Executive Committee.

Its membership is made up of the Republican county chair, the state committeeman and the state committeewoman from each of the state’s 67 counties

Statewide elected Republican officials, Republican members of Congress, the state Senate president, House speaker, 20 other state legislators, and 10 gubernatorial appointees also have votes.

It takes a majority of those present to elect a chairman. If no candidate wins a majority, there’s a runoff.

One thing that adds a note of unpredictability: ballots are cast in secret, so neither candidate can be certain that the people who’ve promised them support will actually vote for them in private.

The people who decide on the next chairman already know the candidates. Feaman and Power have both been elected to leadership roles by the state Republican Executive Committee.

Why now

Normally the party would be well into its work toward the 2024 elections. But leadership of the Florida Republican Party has been in turmoil since late November, when the Florida Center for Government Accountability first reported Sarasota police were investigating a woman’s allegation Ziegler raped her in October.

The accuser had a three-way sexual encounter with Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member and Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, about a year ago, police wrote in a search warrant affidavit. Another three-way encounter was planned for Oct. 2, but the woman canceled when Ziegler’s wife couldn’t make it, according to court documents.

He has not been charged criminally, and he has denied wrongdoing through his attorney, but Republican elected officials and party activists said he couldn’t continue leading the party.

On Dec. 17, the party revoked Ziegler’s authority and reduced his $120,000 annual salary to $1. A vote to remove him comes at Monday’s meeting.

Power then wants an immediate vote to elect a new party chairman. “I think the election has to be held on Monday. Fundraising can’t wait another month. We can’t wait another month to start building infrastructure,” Power said. “Time is not something we have to waste at the moment.”

Feaman wants the vote delayed until the committee’s annual meeting Feb. 10 in Orlando, arguing that a Monday meeting in Tallahassee won’t allow as many people to participate as a weekend meeting in Orlando.

“We should not have a rush to judgment here,” Feaman said, adding that “if it’s the will of the committee to have the election on Monday the 8th, I’ll be ready to go forward.”

This report includes information from Sun Sentinel archives.

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com and can be found @browardpolitics on Bluesky, Threads, Facebook and Post.news.