It was about a year ago that former Hillsborough County Republican chief David Storck sent out a pre-presidential election e-mail decried as racist. When Deborah Cox-Roush was elected to take over for Storck, she pledged to reach out more to blacks, Hispanics and young people.
It seems she's following through on that.
At the party's last executive committee meeting, Ken Lawson, an African-American attorney, was elected treasurer. Cox-Roush said she believes it's the first time the local party has had a black officer. "I was thrilled about that," she said.
Lawson, 44, downplayed the race issue and said he's just glad to be involved in local party politics. He started becoming a regular at meetings about eight months ago and is heading up the party's newly created candidate development committee.
But Lawson has some national credentials, too. A former Marine and federal prosecutor, Lawson was appointed by President George W. Bush as assistant secretary of enforcement at the Department of Treasury. He names Brent Scowcroft, Condi Rice and Colin Powell as Republican role models. "I really admire them for their sense of political realism," he said.
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Stanley Gloster has filed to run for the District 5 Tampa City Council seat in 2011. Gloster, 40, is a driver for FedEx who was active in the fight against a tent city for the homeless proposed by Catholic Charities in Hillsborough County.
He serves as vice president of the county's African-American GOP. City Council races are nonpartisan, but if no other Republican files to run for the seat, he'll probably get significant support from the local GOP. A few party regulars have already pledged to attend his first fundraiser Nov. 12, including party chairman Cox-Roush, Kelso Tanner and Mark Proctor.
This is Gloster's first run for public office. He said after living in East Tampa for 28 years, he felt like it was time to try to get involved in bringing some changes to the district.
"I see more and more crime and less jobs coming to this area, and I don't see anybody trying to do anything to make the area better," he said. "We have nothing but retread politicians out there."
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Former state Rep. Sandy Murman was among those attending a recent Brandon Chamber of Commerce luncheon about rail. Before it started, Murman, a Republican, said she is "seriously considering" running for the District 1 Hillsborough County Commission seat in 2010. Rose Ferlita is likely to leave that post to run for Tampa mayor.
But Murman also said she may run for a Florida House or Senate seat. She wouldn't get into specifics, but Rachel Burgin holds the District 56 seat that once belonged to Murman.