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Florida GOP to convene in Tampa this weekend

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Hundreds of members of the Republican Party of Florida will convene this Friday and Saturday in Tampa for the party’s summer quarterly meeting.

“We are looking forward to our next quarterly meeting, and our next chance to bring Republicans from all over the state together,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said. “We have planned a program that will engage the grassroots army and train our activists to be key leaders in our efforts throughout the state, from the Panhandle to the Keys and everywhere in between. Our seminars will help continue our progress of registering new Republicans, educating voters on conservative solutions, reaching Floridians through new technologies, and building volunteer teams as we prepare to take back the White House and elect Republicans across the state.”

A total of 50 separate events will keep those attending busy throughout the event, which climaxes with a two-hour executive board meeting Saturday afternoon.

Among those who intend to make the most of the soiree is Jacksonville-area U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who in addition to holding a reception in a conference room on Friday night (as is one of his 2016 opponents, David Jolly), has also blocked out three hours on Friday afternoon to “meet and greet” with party members. A Quinnipiac poll released this week indicated that none of the declared Senate candidates – DeSantis, Jolly, Todd Wilcox or Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera – are well known enough to even merit being polled.

Among the highlights should be a speech offered by conservative pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, the author of the recently published The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (and How Republicans Can Keep Up). Part of her thesis that she will probably impress upon participants is how the GOP’s powers that be need to leave their traditional thinking and learn to embrace social media to target and engage younger voters.

Also appearing Friday morning is high-profile political consultant Adam Goodman, who will speak about  “Messaging & Imaging: The New Rules for Winning.” (Goodman worked on Jolly’s special election victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the spring of 2014, and is now working for Jolly’s Senate campaign as well). Matt Blair of powerhouse lobbying firm Corcoran & Johnston’s campaign arm, Capitol Consulting, also will talk about how to plan an effective direct mail campaign.

When Ingoglia took over as party chairman this year, he announced he would be contacting all state committee members to gauge their interest in participating on a number of different committees, such as legislative affairs, veterans outreach, Hispanic outreach and African-American outreach. A glance at the schedule of this weekend’s events shows that there are “engagement” committees for women, minorities, veterans, digital and “community engagement.”

On Friday afternoon the faith-based engagement committee will hear from Chad Connelly, chosen last year by the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as the RNC’s first national director of faith engagement. In that role, Connelly led the RNC’s first web-based effort to rally conservative believers behind the party.

The full agenda for the two-day event can be accessed here.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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