Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis this morning heaped praise on state Sen. Joe Gruters, Republican Party of Sarasota chair and a top contender to lead the Republican Party of Florida.

“The one guy that has really come out is Joe Gruters,” DeSantis said. “He would be a great pick. We have 67 county chairmen and Joe has really been a first among equals in many ways in what he’s done with the Sarasota party. They always have excitement going on there. They have people engaged in the party, and they did a good job of turning out voters in Sarasota for us. He’s somebody who’s proven he can be effective.”

The support of the state’s top Republican elected official likely assures Gruters will succeed outgoing chair Blaise Ingoglia as the leader for the state party, who announced this week he will not seek another term.

That’s a dramatic change in the state of the race over a week of mixed messages and heavy jockeying. As recently as last weekend, Gruters wasn’t in the mix or considering a run, he said.

“It wasn’t on my radar,” Gruters told Florida Politics. “The opportunity came out of nowhere.”

But while Gruters’

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