Experts, activists weigh in as Tampa takes political center stage

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Posted at 7:14 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 21:50:35-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa is the political center stage this weekend as conservatives rally together at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. Political experts and activists are weighing in on what’s the driving force behind Tampa Bay becoming a hotbed for politics ahead of the upcoming election.

Thousands of people are expected at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit throughout the weekend.

“That’s the whole objective of these types of events: to bring people together and then send them out with the knowledge and information to go make an impact on their campus,” said Jobob Taeleifi, a Turning Point USA contributor.

The conservative group said its mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom.

It’s just one of the many political events in Tampa in recent days, from the Moms for Liberty national summit to a Florida Democratic Party conference.

“Tampa is a hub for political activity right now,” said Jake Hoffman.

Hoffman is the Executive Director for the Tampa Bay Young Republicans.

“This is our time as young people,” said Hoffman. “This is going to be a red wave of not just Republicans getting elected, but young people getting elected and changing the party and millennials getting involved.”

This event comes as an Axios-Generation Lab “Next Cities Index” found Tampa as a top place Republican college students most want to live after graduation. Hoffman weighed in on what might be behind it.

“The real reason that young people are coming here after college is because they weren’t as concerned with the pandemic as the older crowd was,” said Hoffman. “When Governor DeSantis left this state open, when there was work opportunities and kids could come out of college and get a job somewhere and go to bars and do things freely and live in a free state, that’s why they’re coming here.”

“It’s the epicenter of politics, the I-4 corridor,” said Susan MacManus, an ABC Action News political analyst.

MacManus explained that today’s college students are passionate about being active in politics.

“They’re the ones that will wave signs on the street and go door to door,” said MacManus. “They’ve got the energy. They don’t have the money always, but they’ve got the energy.”

On the other side, Michael Womack, the President of the Hillsborough County Young Democrats, shared a message ahead of election season.

“I think the contrast in this election couldn’t be clearer. It’s just like the last one. It’s the difference between light and darkness,” said Womack. “It’s the difference between people that are fighting to protect democracy and people that aren’t, and that’s what I think is important to take away.”