(The Center Square) – The Florida Republican Party, the nation’s only state political party with two presidential candidates, has ousted its chairman a week before the GOP caucus in Iowa.
The Florida GOP voted Monday to remove embattled Chairman Christian Ziegler, under investigation for rape, and elevated Vice Chairman Evan Power. Seeking the White House in 2024 are Floridians Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, the respective former president and current governor.
The Iowa Republican caucus is next Monday. DeSantis debates Nikki Haley there on Wednesday.
Ziegler has denied the accusations. DeSantis and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott were among those calling for him to step down.
Ziegler and his wife – Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, a Sarasota School Board member – have told police they had a consensual sexual relationship with Christian Ziegler’s accuser.
Bridget Ziegler has not been accused of a crime. No charges have been filed in the October incident.
“Congratulations to our new chairman, Evan Power,” the party wrote on social media. “Under his strong leadership, we will Keep Florida RED, deliver Florida’s 30 electoral votes to the GOP presidential candidate, and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Let’s get to work!”
Published reports say Christian Ziegler did not attend Monday and there were no voices in support of him. The vote of about 200 was by voice, needing only a majority.
DeSantis spokeswoman Julia Friedland declined to comment on Ziegler’s removal, referring question to the governor’s presidential campaign, which did not immediately respond.