Daytona Beach, FL – Nearly a month after the Volusia County Republican Party lost its leader to cancer, the rest of its high-ranking members look within for his replacement.
Paul Deering – a DeLand resident and retired mortgage broker – won Tuesday’s (March 12th) election to replace Tony Ledbetter as chair, beating Wendell Dalla Rosa of Port Orange.
The 72-year-old worked as co-chair of the Volusia GOP alongside Ledbetter for four years before taking over the party’s state committeeman role in 2016.
Deering plans to be “softer” and “more diplomatic” in his approach compared to the often-controversial Ledbetter, but he insists the goals and strategies for keeping Volusia a “red” county won’t change that much.
“[Tony left] big shoes to fill,” Deering added. “I don’t know of anyone that could fill those shoes. He ran rings around just about everyone.”
Deering – who released a YouTube video as part of his winning campaign – wouldn’t rule out endorsing candidates in primaries like Ledbetter, but said he was more likely to let things run its course there before backing whoever won to the hilt against Democrats or any other challengers.
“We’re looking to increase our numbers [for 2020] and involve and train our folks to be able to engage in the battle of policies so that people understand where we stand and what the differences are [between the GOP and the Democrat Party],” Deering noted.
Deering also said the local party was “extremely firmly” behind President Donald Trump in his quest to win re-election, calling next year’s election a “referendum” on his performance in the White House.
“We don’t always like everything he says and the way he says it,” Deering stated. “But, at the end of the day, we like what he accomplishes and that’s the bottom line.”
The GOP swept every local Florida House and Senate seat up for grabs in 2018 and Deering hopes to influence more GOP-registered candidates to run in local “non-partisan” races, especially the Volusia County School Board.
Vice-Chair Marilyn Ford temporarily stepped in for Ledbetter after his sudden passing until the election earlier this week. She’s running to replace her late husband Bob Ford on the Port Orange City Council.
The Volusia GOP will hold another election in April to fill Deering’s state committeeman post and the secretary position which Sandy Alvarez resigned from recently.