Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

Florida's GOP delegates: Wesley Chapel welcomes you

National Republicans voted recently to give Florida's delegation to the Republican National Convention a "reduced priority" for hotel rooms. My first thought: "Welcome to Wesley Chapel!"

Pasco's hotels aren't second-rate, of course. They're simply a longer haul from downtown Tampa compared to a room in, say, West Shore.

Just imagine: A Miami delegate expecting a glitzy downtown room might instead get a great view of the newly widened State Road 54. Hey, it could be worse. At least construction crews won't be there during the Aug. 27-30 convention.

Who's to blame? Legislative leaders. The hotel snub — along with poor seats on the convention floor and a loss of guest passes — are penalties for Florida bucking the national party by holding an early presidential primary, which is Tuesday. The state also lost half its 100 delegates to the convention.

Quick time out. Given the struggling economy, I get that talk of hotel snubs for party high-rollers is a little tone deaf. I hear you, 99 percenters.

But attendees are going to drop some serious coin in Tampa Bay come August. The crush of people and heightened security means people will have a tough time getting around that week. I get that a grass roots Florida volunteer would feel hosed with an inconvenient hotel room. Florida is hosting the party, after all.

Anyhow, it's still too early to know where Florida's delegation will end up — though we do know there's a small chance it will be in our fair county.

For one thing, the new penalties are vague and open to some interpretation. There's a lot of gray area in a phrase like "reduced priority."

Also, it appears only a few Pasco hotels are under contract to provide rooms for official guests like delegates and media members. Convention organizers would not release names of hotels, and say they do not have "north Tampa" hotels sorted by county.

The RNC has a contract for nearly all of Saddlebrook Resort's 540 rooms, according to general manager Greg Riehle. Same story for about half of the 100-room Residence Inn on the Suncoast Parkway. Sales manager Mike Viola said the remainder is booked by people who aren't official guests of the convention.

Overall, the convention has booked 15,000 rooms at 100 hotels within a 35 minute drive of downtown Tampa. Other hotels likely will get some business from attendees, too.

"If they can't find rooms in Tampa, they will filter out," Viola said.

Case in point: the Hampton Inn in Wesley Chapel, which is right off Interstate 75 just across the county line. It is not under contract with the RNC but is booked solid that week with a separate group.

Convention spokesman James Davis said delegate hotel assignments won't be finalized until late spring as officials sort through individual requests from states. For example, California's delegation will be huge, requiring specific arrangements to avoid splitting that group among several hotels.

"Then we put together the jigsaw puzzle to accommodate those requests," Davis said.

So, Florida's delegates could be stuck in one of about 15 hotels in Brandon. They might have to — gasp! — cross a bridge from one of 30 Pinellas hotels.

Or, they might enjoy the swank Saddlebrook rooms, complete with a trip on Pasco's shiny new SR 54.

Comments
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18
Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council on Saturday that the United States is "locked and loaded," ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again."I spoke to the president...
Published: 04/14/18