GOP convention host committee reveals local ambassadors
When the Republican National Convention hits town this summer, the region’s civic boosters hope to make a lasting impression on visitors and the regional economy alike.
To that end, the local host committee today revealed its bipartisan pack of high-powered ambassadors who will lead the handshaking and impression-making while the convention is in town in August.
The list includes Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and his predecessor, Pam Iorio; St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and his predecessor, Rick Baker; Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos; former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack; and Bob Martinez, a former Florida governor and Tampa mayor. Also on the list is former Gov. Jeb Bush, who was unable to attend Monday’s gathering.
Buckhorn and Iorio are Democrats. The rest are Republicans.
All eight were named honorary co-chairs of the host committee. The committee’s task will be to ensure that the thousands of delegates, protesters and members of the media leave Tampa with smiles on their faces.
Community leaders hope convention visitors’ good time in Tampa will translate into future investment in the city and region.
“We see this as one of the biggest economic opportunities we’ve ever had,” said Al Austin, the host committee chairman.
Convention organizers expect to see 40,000 attendees and 15,000 journalists descend on Tampa from Aug. 27-30.
“This is our opportunity, unlike any time we will ever have, to tell Tampa’s story,” Buckhorn said. “We will never get this opportunity again.”
City leaders are busy sprucing up Tampa’s main traffic arteries and preparing the police force to handle thousands of protesters that are expected to join the mix.
The city council is likely to sign off Thursday on $6 million in communications equipment for the city’s police. That follows on the heels of millions more the city is spending on closed-circuit security cameras, helicopter-based surveillance gear and an armored vehicle.