Many of Tampa Bay's most prominent Republicans won't vote for Trump or won't say
It's been such a lousy week for Donald Trump it's hard to keep track of all the missteps and bad news. Public feuding with the Khan family, who lost a son in Afghanistan. Alienating other party leaders by declining to endorse Paul Ryan and publicly snubbing Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. Saying he “always wanted” a Purple Heart but it was “much easier” for a supporter to give one to Trump, who received five draft deferments from Vietnam. Multiple national and battleground state (including Florida) polls showing Hillary Clinton pulling comfortably ahead. Talking up the prospect of a rigged election. Having to deny media reports about Trump allies planning an "intervention" to help rescue his campaign. Sally Bradshaw, a Jeb Bush adviser and one of the most respected GOP strategists in Florida, switched to no party affiliation, and declaring that she will not vote for Trump, and even will vote for Clinton if Florida is close.
Wondering how common Bradshaw's sentiment is among prominent Republicans, we reached out to some of the GOP giants of Tampa Bay. It's remarkable even to have to ask people who have been on the front lines of building the GOP for decades whether they will vote for the Republican presidential nominee.
But even more remarkable how many said no or declined to say. We will continue updating this today as answers come in.
Do you intend to vote for Trump?
Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Trinity: "I will never, ever vote for Hillary. Undecided on Trump, but a big fan of Mike Pence. Donald needs to unify even in the face of criticism. The debates will probably be the deciding factor for many -- including myself."
Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel: No. "Sadly, I find both candidates to be unworthy of the office of the presidency."
Former Gov. Bob Martinez: "I'm voting for the Republican nominee, and he is the Republican nominee."
Florida GOP Chairman and state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill: Yes (We incorrectly said earlier that he declined to say).
Kathleen Shanahan, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and Gov. Jeb Bush: No. "After 30 years of active engagement in my party, (Trump) doesn't represent my party. And he's not my candidate."
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis: Yes he is voting for Trump. On the Khan family controversy, "I hope Donald Trump redirects his focus on all that is good and true about America - our love of country and honoring those who seek to defend it."
U.S. Rep. David Jolly: "If the election were held today I would not be supporting Trump. I have deep concerns with both his national security and domestic economic policies."
U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent. " I would never vote for Hillary. Never. ... As a Gold Star family the Khans have paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve every right to say what they feel. Being parents to three sons in the military, my wife and I understand the ever-present reality of perhaps never seeing our boys again – and the Khans are now living that nightmare. Donald Trump was out-of-line to pick on this family and I think it's done his candidacy real damage.”
Developer, top fundraiser, and former Ambassassador Mel Sembler: Declined to answer.
Architect and top GOP fundraiser Carlos Alfonso: "These two tickets are a non answer to me....so....I will keep my head down and hope I either come to some miraculous revelation or something changes or I can adapt to the newest normal in our country."
Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker: Declined to answer
Businessman and top Florida GOP donor Bill Edwards: "I don't know....The right to vote is a private matter."
Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano: Declined to say.
Businessman and top GOP fundraiser Dick Beard of Tampa: "It's a no-brainer for me. I think (Clinton)'s a crook...It takes a lot of moxie to be able to build a company like Trump built."
St. Petersburg businessman and major GOP donor James MacDougald: Declined to answer.
Businessman and Republican fundraiser Don DeFosset of Tampa: "I'm leaning that way."
State Sen. Jeff Brandes: Declined to say.
State Sen. Jack Latvala: Yes
Former Pinellas GOP Chairman Paul Bedinghaus: "I'm not yet convinced Mr. Trump wants to win ... He's not speaking to me, nor for me."
Businessman and Republican fundraiser Rick Michaels of Tampa: Yes. "(I am) part of the stop the Clintons crowd."
Pinellas Republican Chairman Nick DiCeglie: I support Mr. Trump and like many other Republicans I wish he would focus on the issues at hand: economy, terrorism, and immigration. He also needs to point out Hillary's record of corruption and lying that makes her unfit to hold the office of presidtent."
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos: "I don't even discuss how I vote with my wife."
Businessman and conservative activist Sam Rashid. Yes. "Grudgingly."
Tampa Republican National Convention Host Committee President and CEO Ken Jones: "I'm going to support the Republican nominee."
Tampa accountants and top GOP fundraisers Robert and Nancy Watkins: Yes
Former Hillsborough GOP Chairman Art Wood: "Trump, for sure! If for no other reason than (Supreme Court) appointments, but other positives also.
Hillsborough GOP Chairwoman Deborah Tamargo: "Yes. Trump issues resonate: safety and a return to economic security."