APOLLO BEACH — At a weekend meeting, many South Shore Republican Club members suggested they would stand behind Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Club president Dave Thomas said that quite a few members voted for Trump in the Florida primary in March, and they're supportive going forward.
"We've all come together fairly well since he's sewing up the presumptive nominee, and we'll do our very best to get the word out for him," Thomas said before the Saturday evening dinner meeting, whose speakers included U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach.
Thomas said Trump has had good energy as far as turnout goes.
"The state of Florida will come down to turnout," Thomas said. "How energized we as Republicans are for getting out the vote, and others in general. And then how hard the Democrats will work."
South Shore Republican Club Secretary Donna McClane agreed.
"It will be tough against (Hillary) Clinton, but I think he will do well," McClane said. "We needed a change from what we have now. We need to have someone that really cares about Americans and our safety and I think Donald Trump will do it, and he's not a politician, which is good."
Former club member Mike Kirby of Wimauma, who attended the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, says he's cautiously optimistic.
"It seems like one man and one man only, that being (Barack) Obama, is ruling the roost and nothing we wanted done has happened since that convention," Kirby said. "But I don't think the Democrats have an answer and a national character that will sway the ballot, and I don't think Hillary is a charismatic character who can do that."
Kirby said he's thinking about rejoining the club to help get Trump elected.
David Wilson offered a different perspective. Wilson, an African-American member of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans who also serves on the executive committee of the Hillsborough County Republican Party, says the Republican Party's message of color blindness isn't resonating.
"They're not applying the message of conservative principles to black individuals and young black individuals and they should," said Wilson, who lives in Valrico.
Wilson added that Trump's background as a businessman who has won and lost millions will resonate better than other Republican candidates as a whole, but he doesn't believe he can beat Clinton.
With less than six months to go before the presidential election, Thomas said the South Shore Republican Club has its work cut out for it.
Said Thomas: "We'll be working the precincts to make sure Republicans are voting, walking around and talking to people about issues we feel are a proper platform, especially the undecided."
Contact Kathryn Moschella at [email protected]