For Joe Gruters, attending the Republican National Convention means more than an exciting trip to a political event in Ohio. The chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota has enjoyed one of the most important years of his political life, having decided early in the election cycle to back Donald Trump for the Republican nomination and getting tapped to co-chair the Trump campaign’s Florida operation. Last week, he served on the GOP’s national platform committee, co-chairing the Economy and Jobs subcommittee alongside the CEO of Hardee’s. “Who would have thought small-town CPA Joe Gruters from Sarasota would be helping draft language for every Republican in the country?” he says.


Gruters will be in Cleveland all week for the RNC as one of the delegates representing the Sarasota-Manatee area. Then he will return to Sarasota, where Trump has stationed his Florida campaign and where full-time staffers will likely shift into high gear starting next week.


A number of political leaders from the Sarasota-Bradenton area also can be found in Cleveland this week. Richard DeNapoli, an alternate delegate at the convention, says the convention was already exciting even before the prime time speeches began. “I enjoyed yesterday’s event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the first day’s Florida Breakfast with Frank Luntz this morning was very informative,” he said Monday.


Christian Ziegler, Republican state committeeman for Sarasota County, was busy Monday posting a string of Facebook Live videos from the floor of the convention. “It’s pretty sweet being a delegate because you have an all-access pass,” he says in one video. Meanwhile, Republican Party of Manatee Chairman Kathleen King tweeted pictures from around the Quicken Arena where the convention is being held, including from a Florida delegation breakfast held Monday morning.


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