BROOKSVILLE — Tom Hogan Sr. is an old hand at the Republican National Convention game.
He was a Florida delegate in Miami in 1968 when Richard Nixon was selected to run for his first term as president. He was in Dallas in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan won his second party nod.
All told, Hernando's longtime state committeeman has attended nearly every national and state GOP convention for the past 5 ½ decades.
Next week, the 80-year-old Hogan will be in Tampa, serving as one of two at-large Hernando County delegates in the Florida delegation. The other is Blaise Ingoglia, the Hernando Republican Executive Committee chairman and state party vice chairman, who will be attending his first national convention.
The two men admit they are something of an interesting political contrast.
Hogan, a retired Brooksville pharmacist, is mostly an old-school political organizer. He became the county's first Republican state committee member in 1961, when Democrats pretty much ruled local politics. Through the years, he and his wife, Mary Ann, have actively worked to strengthen the party's influence and help swing the county's political tide in a different direction.
The New York-born Ingoglia, 41, is a relative newcomer to Hernando politics. A businessman and professional poker player, he made a splash a few years ago with his "Government Gone Wild" seminars and videos, decrying county spending and the mounting federal debt, a message that continues to resonate loudly in party circles.
Ingoglia said he credits the Hogans for being not just mentors, but good friends as well.
"That's why I'm so excited about this opportunity," Ingoglia said. "I'm pretty much going there as a student to learn."
Hogan can attest that there will be plenty to learn at the four-day convention. And much of it will revolve around getting to and from the event each day.
To comply with tight security regulations, both men will be staying with other members of the Florida delegation at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor. Each day, the group will be transported by bus to the convention site at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa.
"My hope is that it will at least speed things up," Hogan said. "Those lines through security can be awfully long."
Although he and Hogan still were waiting for the release of the final convention schedule, Ingoglia said that a mobile phone application he downloaded has enabled him to plan ahead for some events.
"Considering the tight schedule they're probably running, it's a nice thing to have," he said.
So far, Ingoglia has signed up to attend receptions hosted by the Maverick PAC and the Women's Leadership Council.
Hogan said he's taking a wait-and-see approach with his activities. He plans to meet with other state delegates during the day, and will attend some daytime receptions. But he wants to be on the convention floor for speeches and presentations during the evening hours.
"Every day is a buildup to Thursday, when the nomination (for president) is made," Hogan said. "For me, it's always exciting to be right down there in the middle of it."
Ingoglia said that while he's not exactly sure what to expect from his first convention, he hopes to see party members present a strident, unified image to the country by the time delegates are ready to name former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to the presidential ticket Thursday.
"I think we have a very cohesive party right now," Ingoglia said. "I think it's important that we have a clear message that's positive to voters."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or email@example.com.