Last week, the Republican Party of Pinellas County emailed an announcement for the Donald Trump South Carolina Primary Watch Party. The event was to be held Saturday in Pinellas Park at Quaker Steak and Lube on 49th Street.
Theresa and I decided to drop by.
We arrived about 6:30 p.m. and the organizers were already setting up. T-shirts, hats, yard signs and other Trump material were on display.
By 7:15 p.m., the large room at Quaker Steak was full of people standing around the perimeter. Most interesting was the demographic mix; while seniors were in the majority, there was an interesting group of millennials and those just of voting age.
After the results had been in, with Trump declared the winner, there was a small presentation followed by a request for volunteers in various campaign activities.
People attended from all over the county, even a few from Tampa.
Here are a few observations:
When we arrived, I noticed there were no donation envelopes on the sign-up table. I asked how I could give to the campaign.
“We are not taking any donations,” we were told. “Mr. Trump is paying for everything.”
It was the first political rally I had ever attended where there were no solicitations for funds — not even to help pay for the event.
Led by Trump’s Pinellas County Co-Chair Nick LaRosa, event organizers were informed, pleasant and well-organized. On any number of occasions, they indicated that they did not speak for Trump, but their job was to organize the effort to get him nominated by the Republican Party and elected to the presidency.
The notice, sent by the Republican Party of Pinellas, was a courtesy extended to all candidates, and they do not endorse any candidate until after the national convention. Nonetheless, they say — unofficially — Trump is not their first choice.
It is time for the Republican Party to take a step back from their “anybody but Trump” stand and begin looking at those people actually supporting this candidate. And with the crowd at this rally, Trump’s support is pretty broadly based.
The real question may be can the Republican Party survive both a split with Trump and losing the presidential election?
Eugene “Doc” Webb is the author of “In Search of Robin,” and is a contributor to the Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff campaign. He can be reached at email@example.com at Facebook. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. Doc’s Photo Gallery is at Bay Post Photos.