I did something last night that I haven’t done since my college days. No, it didn’t involve sophomoric pranks or cramming for a test. I joined my local Republican Executive Committee (REC).
Actually, I had briefly joined the Hillsborough REC in 2004, but I was limited on time. I think the highlight of that year was banging signs in the ground at 2:00 am on Election Day.
My intention last night was simply to observe and carefully consider how I could get involved. Judith Almand, however, had other ideas. Thinking I could postpone any commitment, I pointed out that I did not have my voter registration card or remember my precinct number. No problem. Voter Vault quickly identified me and the next thing I knew I was standing in front of the room taking the oath of office with about ten other new recruits. After a healthy handshake from A.J. Matthews, I was sent to sit with others from my district.
This meeting was much as the ones I remember fifteen years ago. There’s still healthy discussion of Lincoln Day Dinners and pancake breakfasts. What has changed are the organizational efforts. This was less to do with computers and instead with the drive of folks like Almand and David Storck to aggressively grow grassroots efforts at the county level.
Granted, my other REC experiences have been in other (smaller) counties such as Alachua and Escambia, but it was amazing to see the turnout – especially this early in the campaign season.
Present were representatives from the Romney and McCain campaigns, but the attendees were clearly focused on state issues. Two issues, to be precise.
Sen. Victor Crist gave a good overview and recap of the session, but he and the audience relentlessly returned to property taxes and insurance. While passionate about the topics, Crist did seem concerned about the legislature’s ability to find a solution during the upcoming special session.
If there had been any doubt, last night made it clear that these will be the two issues to dominate state politics in the coming months.