G. G. Galloway
February 14, 2019
A true competitor who was ALL IN, who believed strongly on keeping us all on the right course , but most of all someone I considered a true friend . There were times you may have had difference of opinions but regardless what it was you always left respecting each other’s point of view. We always would share our Blue Bell Ice cream stories . You had a good Run Tony , we just didn’t have you long enough. But the good lord needs a good republican in heaven to get things straighten out . He hand picked the best . Until we all meet again , thanks for your friendship and guidance during the campaign.
Joseph & Maureen KUBASKY
February 14, 2019
Tony was a wonderful person and great friend to Flagler County. Joseph was a past treasurer of the Flagler REC, one of the founders of the Flagler Country TEA Party, one of the founders and currently a board member of the Flagler Trump Club and chaired the first Trump Day Dinner in Florida for the Flagler Trump Club(Tony acted as our MC for the dinner). Tony will be sorely missed in Flagler County conservative circles. He helped start and continued to support the above organizations in Flagler County. May he rest in Peace.
February 13, 2019
Tony and I could fight like cats and dogs but when it came to him calling me to do something or me calling him for campaign supplies, we were there for each other. I loved the Trump campaign adventure! I know Tony got GovRonDeSantis elected! God rest his soul
February 13, 2019
My sincerest condolences to the family of Tony. What a huge loss to all of us. Tony was such a wonderful President Trump Supporter and an outspoken Patriot. He will be missed terribly. Rest easy my friend.
February 13, 2019
My deepest condolences. Tony was a tireless champion of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. He is directly responsible for transforming Volusia County into a reliably red stronghold. He was one of the few party leaders across the nation that was with President Trump from day one. His leadership will be greatly missed. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
February 13, 2019
Tony was a stalwart conservative Republican. He placed country and family above all. He will be sorely missed in all the lives he touched. RIP Tony. 🔥🇺🇸🔥
Ann & Len Ceckowski
February 13, 2019
Tony was a true patriot and a true leader that made such a huge difference in all those who knew him. Volusia912, the tea party, friends and especially the Republican party will greatly miss all his contributions throughout the years.
RIP Tony and sincere condelences to Mrs. Toni and the entire family
February 13, 2019
You good and faithful servant! You were a leader, a friend and great patriot, I am proud to have worked along side you and appreciate everything you accomplished on behalf of our movement (Tea Party), our Party (GOP) and our Lord!
Heaven is building a great Army, calling home some amazing Patriots, it seems to me, Our Lord is assembling a great team--Heaven 912 or Tea Party Heaven readying to battle Satan again!
It is natural he would direct the services of YOU, my brother, in the days ahead, to defeat those enemies of Freedom, since you served him so admirably here!
You are 100% again, healed and ready for battle...onward Christian Soldier!
Tony Ledbetter had seen more than his share of Republican candidates since he first campaigned here for Bob Dole in 1996. But from the moment he saw Donald Trump come down that escalator, everything was different.
Tony sensed instinctively that presidential politics would never be quite the same. He got on the Trump train early and never looked back. I could see early on that Trump and Ledbetter were kindred spirits.
They shared a dogged determination to win. Neither man was bound by political correctness. Both had take-charge personalities with a special acumen for recruiting and organizing talented people with diverse talents for a common purpose. Once he gave someone a task, he trusted them to get it done. Chaos sometimes ensued, but positive change often resulted.
Tony Ledbetter is known to some as the father of Volusia County’s Republican Voter Guide. He insisted nonpartisan elections are a sham, and that voters deserve to know where the candidates really stand politically. He withstood withering criticism from those who favored the status quo. Tony and his hundreds of dedicated GOP troops never relented.
Tony recognized potential. He saw it in Ron DeSantis from the time of his first congressional campaign. They became fast friends and Tony was at his side all the way to victory.
By May 4, 2017, Volusia County turned Republican red for the first time in its history dating back to its pre-Civil War founding in 1854. Tony didn’t do that alone — he had a dedicated corps of volunteers to help and a Trump candidacy that motivated thousands of independents and Democrats to flip to the GOP.
Volusia County provided President Trump with much of his 2016 winning edge in Florida. The same was true in 2018 for DeSantis and Rick Scott, who won razor-thin victories in fiercely fought races for governor and U.S. Senate.
Tony recruited Tom and Nancy Coriale to organize hundreds of volunteers to hand out voter guides at polling places. Republicans often flood the zone at polling places, politely making the case for electing the GOP ticket. Volusia County’s entire delegation to the Florida Legislature is now Republican thanks in large measure to that volunteer effort.
The chairman was fond of telling the troops: “No more Democrats.”
He stayed true to his word. He played for Team GOP and no one else. The Tony Ledbetter we knew and admired was decades in the making. Yet he was always looking forward to the next new strategy for getting out a winning message.
Shortly after the Trump inaugural, Tony told me he wanted to create a radio show to defend the President’s “America First Agenda” against the slings and arrows of fake news, “Never-Trump RINOS,” “Delusional Democrats” and the “Resistance.” So together we created “Trump Talk Live,” a weekly hour-long talk show on WNDB that chronicled and defended the President’s first year.
Tony understood the power of social media and so we developed Facebook and Twitter pages featuring hourly updates on the political world.
Tony and many capable volunteers set up active phone banks, door to door campaigns, voter guide mailings. He was proud to promote our teenaged Republicans, who won recognition as the top TARS club in America.
He was a Florida field general for the Trump campaign in 2016. His office in Holly Hill served as the warehouse and central depot for every Trump sign that carpeted Florida. Tony would recruit hard-working volunteer crews to unload and then reload truckloads of campaign materials and then drive them in rented trucks to every corner of the Sunshine State.
He booked A-list Lincoln Day Dinner headliners at the Ocean Center including Benghazi warrior Kris Paronto, Judge Jeanine and Dr. Sebastian Gorka. These premier events were huge successes and provided us with financial resources to mount successful voter drives.
He didn’t win every election, but he won more than his share and managed to transform the political landscape of Volusia County. He was fond of telling the troops that he woke up every day “thanking God that Donald Trump is our President.” He considered it the honor of his life that he was one of Florida’s 29 Electors to cast a ballot for Trump.
When Tony believed in you, he was all in. He expected everyone on his team to do the same. A lot of very successful generals and football coaches are cut from the same cloth. There was no halfway, no rest, no time for excuses.
He believed the Biblical wisdom of I Corinthians 14:8: “for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” His clarion call was action. HIs cause was the greatness of the America we all love. His people were those who shared his passion.
His dear wife Toni Wright told me his only regret was that cancer robbed him of the time to say a proper goodbye to his extended family in the Republican Party.
I worked closely with Tony. He never had the time to stop, until time stopped for him. But he lived for the cause, and inspired us all to carry on in his example.
I suspect Tony would want us to know that his life and work speak for themselves. Rest well, true and faithful patriot servant.
Vic Baker is the communications director for the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee.
[SEE PHOTO GALLERY: Remembering Tony Ledbetter]
Friends remember Ledbetter
I asked some of Tony’s close associates in the Republican Party to share their memories. Here they are:
READ MORE: Tony Ledbetter, energetic Volusia Republican ‘boss,’ dies
Watch Baker’s tribute video to Ledbetter
Early on the evening of the Fourth of July, I found myself at Rockefeller Gardens Park at the southeast corner of the Granada Bridge in Ormond Beach. I was there with my sweetheart, Joni Hunt, waiting for the fireworks to start, enjoying the breeze off the Halifax River, and chatting with the occasional person we knew. A band at the south end of the park started playing “Sweet Home Alabama.”
I turned toward the band, and there stood a familiar figure holding up a “Trump for President” sign. It was Tony Ledbetter, chairman of the Volusia County Republicans and perhaps Donald J. Trump’s truest believer in Florida.
He was also wearing a white Trump hat, a white Trump t-shirt, black shorts, white socks pulled up over unusually white legs, black shoes, and a slight smile.
If it seems like I’m having some sport with Ledbetter’s appearance, well, I probably am. He can come off as a little unsophisticated. He’s not a stylish dresser. He’s not a polished speaker. Occasionally he can be too partisan, and too obstinate. But anyone who underestimates Ledbetter’s effectiveness does so at his or her own peril. When it comes to street-level politics, Ledbetter gets it.
You want proof? Drive through the Daytona Beach area and try to count the number of Trump signs in supporters’ yards. They are everywhere. While you’re noticing all those Trump signs, ask yourself, where are the signs for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton? On my six-mile drive from home to The News-Journal, I don’t see a single Clinton sign. That disparity is all the more remarkable in Volusia County, which has slightly more registered Democrats than Republicans. (*Update: In May of 2017, the number of registered Republicans passed the registered Democrats for the first time in Volusia County history. This remains true today)
Ledbetter also understands social media. His personal Facebook page is a virtual shrine to two efforts: Electing Trump, and defeating Clinton.
I spoke with Ledbetter briefly on Friday, as he and his wife, Toni, were preparing to drive to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Until we spoke, I had assumed that anyone who spends as much time as Ledbetter on politics must be retired. Not true. He and his wife own and run Miracle Lace Visor, which manufactures “no headache” women’s hat wear.
I’m a political independent who’s definitely not a Trump fan, and definitely not a Clinton fan. It’s a dilemma, I know.
But — while I don’t necessarily agree with him — I am a fan of Ledbetter’s approach to politics. He works.
Area Democrats could learn from him.