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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Glumly, Pinellas GOP legislators pledge to back Donald Trump as nominee



Most of the Pinellas County legislative delegation headlined a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club luncheon today in St. Pete, and inevitably the topic of Donald Trump came up. All Republicans present - state Sens. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and state Reps. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, promised they would support Trump as the nominee, but only Trump supporter Ahern sounded remotely enthusiastic about it.

"Every day almost," Sen. Latvala said, "something comes out of his mouth that disappoints me, and I do hope he matures as a candidate and certainly as an elected official if he wins...To see the negativity and the criticism and the insults, it's hard as a Republican but I've always supported the Republican ticket. And, I'll tell you, If I had any doubt about whether I'm going to vote for a Republican or whether I'm going to vote for Hillary Clinton, I went to see '13 Hours,' the movie about Benghazi, and they were erased."

His son, Rep. Latvala said he is "by no means a fan of Donald Trump, I think that in large part he's an embarrassment and not representative of myself or my party. But I do think it will be interesting to see how many Democrats publicly support and jump on board a potential U.S. Senate nominee that is equally as erratic as Donald Trump -- Alan Grayson.

Moderator Peter Schorsch asked each of the legislators to predict who will be the next president. Clinton, said Democratic St. Pete state Reps. Darryl Rouson and Dwight Dudley. Ahern predicted Trump, Chris Latvala predicted Ted Cruz, Brandes predicted Paul Ryan, and Jack Latvala quipped that it will be Jeb Bush. Peters said, "I'm afraid it may be Donald Trump."

Sen. Latvala did take the opportunity to say that as he watches Trump insulting, attacking, and blowing up at people, it has at least given him hope that a Jack Latvala can still rise in politics today.

Missing were Chris Sprowls, James Grant, and Arthenia Joyner.


[Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 4:29pm]


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