Wednesday, November 2, 2016

POLITICAL HOME STRETCH 2016: Florida Races Energize Voters

(All photos courtesy of Rick Armstrong Photography)
Florida Races
Energize Voters

Despite the hoo-ha surrounding
the current battle for the White
House, I've personally been
focused more closely on some
of the exciting races playing out
here in my home state of Florida.
And I'm not the only one.

He must have been about 70 — the decorated military veteran who bear-hugged me at the end of the bar. "Thank you for staging this event," he offered, with tears in his eyes.

It was a powerful experience indeed, as hundreds of super-charged enthusiasts packed Palm Bay, Florida's hot spot, Siggy's American Bar, on October 28th. From servicemen to businessmen, from retired grannies to active soccer moms to a sea of fresh-faced young people — Americans of all ages who love their country and value their freedom came out to show support for their chosen candidates running for key Florida offices in the November 8th general election.

The rally was billed as an official "Get Out the Vote" event. And as a 45-year political student and a 20-year Siggy's staff member, I was honored to help connect local GOP campaign organizers with the perfect locale in which to stage such an impressive pow-wow.

Siggy's owner, Amy Sigafoos, with
Florida House candidate, Randy Fine.
Siggy's signature-style red, white and blue, Stars and Stripes decor provided an authentic backdrop as Florida House of Representatives District 53 candidate, Randy Fine, took the stage at 1:15pm. Driven by his passion for improving Florida's education system, Fine's opening comments seemed to resonate well with voters.

Having served in the Florida House for the last eight years, Debbie Mayfield has become a prominent figure on the political scene. And after winning the August Republican primary for a seat in the Florida Senate, the Sunshine State native now faces Democrat opponent Amy Tidd in the upcoming general election. Committed to creating jobs and protecting the Constitution, Mayfield drew cheers from supporters throughout her speech.

As an ardent supporter, I was thrilled to meet
Florida Senate candidate, Debbie Mayfield.
To say that the arrival of Marco Rubio met with Bieber-like fervor might actually understate the crowd's passion-factor as I ushered Florida's wildly popular U.S. Senator through the employee entrance and onto the Siggy's stage.

In a speech that lasted approximately 20 minutes, Rubio connected with Palm Bay residents speaking openly of his younger days, slinging buckets of ice while working at his father's bar in Miami — a business he likened to Siggy's. The recent Presidential candidate then offered specific sentiments to the seemingly countless teens who also were in attendance — focusing on the importance of education and encouraging them to make smart, responsible life choices.

Enthusiasts of all ages came out in droves
to show support for Senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio's message soon took on a more serious tone as he addressed the significance of the current Presidential contest, as well as various Florida races — in particular, his own re-election bid which has the incumbent pitted against Democrat challenger, Patrick Murphy. With cool, heartfelt conviction, Rubio wrapped-up his speech by urging supporters once again to "get out the vote."

But surprisingly, he didn't split the scene. He wasn't led out of the building immediately buy handlers who rushed him off the property in a shiny new SUV. Instead, Rubio stepped off the stage and into the crowd engaging in a personal, hour-long, one-on-one voter meet-and-greet, while my fellow Siggy's All-American Bar staffers served-up FREE all-American food to all. Mmm — sizzlin' hot dogs and homemade apple pie!

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)


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