Pinellas County Republicans have a new chairman for 2013, Michael Guju, a Palm Harbor real estate lawyer. Say that 10 times fast. Guju has been the party's vice chairman for the past four years and stepped up this year after former chairman Jay Beyrouti decided not to run. Guju agreed to share some goals and strategies:
You've said that one of your goals is to bring people into the party who haven't really been involved in politics. How are you going to do that?
Reaching out to potential Republican voters via events, email, phone, text and personal contact. We believe the more informed a voter is, the more likely they will vote for Republican candidates. When voters see how much freedom and taxes they have lost as a result of Washington, D.C.,'s actions, they will opt to vote for Republicans.
What are the top three races you'll be focusing on?
Since there is no such thing as an "off year" in politics and no partisan election is less important than another, the Pinellas Republican Party will look to impact every race. Our party is focused on spreading our message to all voters of lower taxes, better education, less regulation and stronger families. Of course, there are more visible races than others and one of the most visible is for Florida governor. It is crucial to the continued well-being of Florida that Gov. Rick Scott is re-elected in 2014. Gov. Scott, as head of our party, has kept his campaign promises and made Florida a better place to live.
Is the Pinellas GOP going to get involved in the St. Petersburg mayor's race?
The Pinellas GOP (Great Opportunity Party) will take an active role in supporting the Republican candidate for mayor. The city of St. Petersburg, being Pinellas' most populist city, has benefited from many Republican leaders over the years and we want to continue its good government.
What was the greatest lesson of 2012 for the party?
As a party, we need to broaden our reach and appeal to disenchanted voters in order to expand. We need to ensure that we are sending signals to Pinellas County voters that they are welcome in our party. If we focus on the core principles — individual liberty, limited government, lower taxes and entrepreneurship — we will win elections. We can and will reach out to all voters.
What's your strategy for recapturing the local positions the party lost in the last election?
The county has some of the best parks, beaches, and walking trails in Florida, and we need to responsibly use taxpayer dollars to continue to make Pinellas a great place to live and visit. The Republican candidates owe it to the residents of Pinellas to focus on the key issues: taxes, improving county services, and economic development. Having said that, the Pinellas Republican Party has many strong candidates who will be vigorously supported by the party.
We believe our message of inclusiveness, respect, freedom and responsibility will resonate with Pinellas voters. Voters realize that the more the government intrudes in our lives, the less freedom we have and the Republican Party stands for increased freedom.
Mark Puente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8779.