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Arthenia Joyner and Janet Cruz help open up Hillary Clinton campaign office in Ybor City

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa based state Senator Arthenia Joyner got to the point in addressing a packed audience that crowded into the new campaign headquarters for the Hillary Clinton campaign on Thursday night.

“We know what it means to hand our future to a billionaire businessman,” she said, comparing the Democrats bete noire in Florida with Donald Trump. “We don’t need a Rick Scott clone in the White House. Is that what we want to see? Do we really want an instant replay with what we’ve witnessed first hand in the state of Florida? Hell no!”

The crowd cheered lustily as they gathered in the new office, located on 7th Avenue and 22nd Street in Ybor City.

Joyner, the outgoing Senate Minority Leader, then shared the tiny stage with Tampa state Representative Janet Cruz, the incoming House Minority Leader in 2017.

Cruz, who turned 60 last week, then asked for 20 women who were 60 years old or older to stand in front of her on the makeshift stage. As they crowded the stage, Cruz discussed how Jackie Onassis was a woman who was an idol for women like her mother in the early 1960’s.

“That was the woman she looked up to,” Cruz began. “But today is a completely new day. Not only is my mentor a former first lady, and a secretary (of state), but she’s going to be the first female president of the United States!,” as the crowd erupted in cheers.

However, what was instructive to note was that there were many others in the audience were 60 years of age and over, with nary a millennial in the room.

“Maybe this room isn’t the best representation of all Clinton supporters,” admitted Asher Edelson, at 22 one of the youngest people in the room not working or volunteering for the Clinton campaign. Clinton’s recently vanquished Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, has just endorsed Clinton, and the hopes for many in the Clinton campaign is that his backing will bring many of his young supporters to her side.

“The reason a lot of people are so enamored by Bernie Sanders and almost in love with what he was doing was that his issues mean a lot to young people,” Edelson added.”I feel like a lot of  millenians are issue driven, and the more issues that Hilary and  her campaign target for the good of the people, are more likely to attract those young voters.”

Clinton has adopted and/or modified some of Sanders signatures issues that appealed to his supporters. Last week she proposed a plan to eliminate tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for families with annual incomes up to $125,000.

“I was watching  the news the other night and they were interviewing a Bernie Sanders supporter,” said Tampa resident Michael Pullera, “and they were saying they just couldn’t trust Hillary and they were going to vote Libertarian, because they couldn’t drive themselves to vote Republican, but that doesn’t help the cause.”

New Clinton campaign offices have opened this week in Miami and Tallahassee, and the energy among partisans is strong as the Democratic National Convention nears later this month. But Thursday’s event also took place a day after a Quinnipiac poll showed Clinton trailing Trump 42 percent to 39 percent in the Sunshine State, compared to a 47 – 39 percent Clinton lead on June 21. The poll was taken in the days since FBI Director James Comey called Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server “extremely careless,” and Democratic Party strategist Anna Cruz concedes that has taken a toll.

“Do I think she got dinged a little bit on the email FBI stuff? Yeah, but you know what? I think the voters are going to get a real opportunity between now and the series of debates to get a good look at both of these candidates, what they stand for, and how they hold up against one another,” she said. “I think it’s going ot be very evident an dvery clear who’s experienced and ready to lead when they take over the White House in Janaury and who’s not, and voters are going to have a very clear distinction.”

Other Clinton supporters agreed.

“I think people are just starting to pay attention to this election and as people learn more and more about Trump, there’s no way our country is going to be able to support his bigotry and his hatred of so many different communities,” said Tampa attorney and Hillsborough County Commission candidate Brian Willis, one of several Democrats on the ballot next month making the rounds. “Florida is such a diverse state, with a large Hispanic population, and you’ve got Donald Trump attacking those people, whereas Hillary is so positive.”

It wasn’t just Hillary supporters in the room. Before the event began, Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee Chair Deb Tamargo brought cookies from Alessi’s Bakery with a picture of Donald Trump to introduce herself to her counterpart, Hillsborough County Democratic Party Executive Chair Ione Townsend.

“I wanted to meet her and say hello,” Tamargo said. “I brought her a letter expressing how we need to tap down all of our people and none of this crazy stuff,” the two shook hands, though Townsend reportedly eschewed the Trump cookies.

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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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