Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

What will the Democrats do in a region flooded with Republicans?

Thirty miles south and six days from the start of the Republican National Convention, the throng of 60-somethings packed into a secluded first-floor office behind a CVS in Sun City Center.

The political volunteers, more than 100 strong, wore campaign buttons and American flag polos. Over cups of Diet Coke and platters of sugar cookies, they discussed plans for what was to come. The days ahead, a speaker told them, would be critically important. Signup sheets lined the wall: "Grassroots Planning Sessions." "Canvassing!!!" "Seniors for Obama."

Wait. Obama?

That's right. Soon, tens of thousands of Republicans will descend upon Tampa Bay, but this area's Democrats say they aren't going anywhere. Their schedules are packed: protests, rallies, vigils, press conferences, a visit from the vice president and even a secret-but-not-so-secret "counter-convention."

"We don't want to ruin the convention for delegates," said Ella Coffee of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, which opened its Tampa campaign office Thursday night. "We just want to be able to have a conversation."

Preparation for that conversation starts today with a protest training session in Tampa. The Code Pink-organized gathering, which many area Democrats are expected to attend, will teach people how to demonstrate without violence, talk to reporters and use social media. Attendees also will practice songs, chants and dance moves.

The education will prepare Democrats for daily protests that begin today in St. Petersburg and a march Sunday during the convention's kickoff party at Tropicana Field. Hillsborough Democrats also have promoted a bevy of events for the week, including a "celebration of resistance" on Monday night, a rally against voter suppression on Tuesday evening, and, on two days, the alliteratively named "Rally Against Romney."

Starting this weekend, the Democratic National Committee also will exert its influence on Tampa Bay with what organizers are calling a "counter-convention."

The movement, according to a press release, will be coordinated from a "war room just a short walk from the Republican convention in downtown Tampa." Democratic officials, who will host daily press events, have declined to name the site or the counter-convention's specific purpose.

On Friday, however, organizers revealed one tactic. Pickups — strapped with billboards slamming "Romney Economics" — will be dispatched around the area throughout the week.

Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be on hand to help kick things off.

Vice President Joe Biden had planned to visit Tampa on Monday to counter the GOP message. He postponed the trip Friday to ensure that all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on Tropical Storm Isaac.

Meanwhile, in Hillsborough, Pinellas and elsewhere around Tampa Bay, many Democratic activists will continue to do what they've done for weeks: knock on doors, pass out fliers and, like the folks in Sun City Center, volunteer at meetings.

Most at Tuesday's gathering intended to stay as far away from Tampa as possible next week.

But Chris Radulich, a 64-year-old from Apollo Beach who says he likes the heat, planned to attend at least one rally or march every day of the convention.

Why?

"The primary thing is, first of all," he paused to consider the question, "to prove there are Democrats in Florida."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com.

What will the Democrats do in a region flooded with Republicans? 08/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 24, 2012 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75

    Accidents

    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the warm response from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute were proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  3. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  4. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  5. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]