While area Democrats were busy preparing on May 2, members of the Alafia Republican Club met to make plans of their own to defeat the sitting president this fall.
There was standing room only at the club's April 30 meeting, the largest turnout to date, said club President Jeff Lukens.
"It's a big year, and this is the largest crowd we've ever had, but we hope to outgrow this room," he said.
Deborah Cox-Roush, a club member as well as a member of the Republican National Committee, said it was rewarding to see so many Republicans in attendance.
Cox-Roush is director of volunteers for the secured perimeter of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Aug. 27-30. She invited club members to get involved as convention volunteers.
Also seeking volunteers for the Republican cause was Joe Byrd of the Republican Club of Florida, with headquarters at 1602 Oakfield Dr., Suite 207, Brandon.
Byrd told the club he needs help manning the headquarters' phone bank, urging Republicans to get out the vote from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 3-7 p.m. on Sundays.
"This is the only way we're going to win this election," Byrd said. The headquarters' first phone bank will take place from 4-8 p.m. May 3.
To further raise awareness, club organizers are planning a precinct walk each month up until the election, beginning June 23.
In addition, organizers will host a sign-waving event at the intersection of Bloomingdale Avenue and Bell Shoals Road on June 28.
The club also is looking for volunteers to help register voters.
The guest speaker at the Alafia Republican Club's April 30 meeting was state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, who gave the club members a chance to ask questions about the just-ended legislative session.
Club member Betsy Hicka was curious about Storms' views on permitting the Council American-Islamic Relations to speak at Hillsborough County schools.
"This group has been indicted in connection with terrorist groups," said Hicka. "But when we protested, the media made it look like we're Islamophobic. But we simply don't want speakers in our schools that will influence our children. How do we combat that?"
Storms said she came up against similar criticism when she voted to prohibit foreign laws, specifically Sharia law, in the state of Florida. Sharia law, the moral code and religious law of Islam, is considered the infallible law of God by Islamics and, therefore, supersedes man-made law in the Islamic world.
"We want everyone who lives in this country to know that the American Constitution applies to them," said Storms.
She advised Hicka to be "faithful to what you believe in, though the fire blowing back at you is very hot."
Storms also addressed her controversial "Twinkie law," which would have prohibited food-stamp recipients from using food stamps to purchase junk food.
"They should be buying real food, not Snickers and Oreos," she said. "Unfortunately, the Republicans in the House killed it. But I will continue to work on the bill. It's got proponents on both sides of the aisle who know it's a bad way to spend public money."
The Alafia Republican Club will join U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, for a meet-and-greet with U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, Friday, May 4 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the patio of the newly opened FishHawk Pizzeria, 15260 FishHawk Blvd., Lithia.
Florida congressional districts were redrawn this year, and Rooney plans to run for Congressional District 17, which includes the FishHawk Ranch area.
Rooney currently represents District 16 in the U.S. House, which runs from Charlotte County to Palm Beach County. The new District 17 will be the largest agricultural district in Florida and one of the largest in the country, said Rooney, a member of the House Agriculture Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.