Sarasota Now Trump Central | Candidate Names Local GOP Chairman Joe Gruters to Lead His Florida Efforts

By Anderson, Zac | Sarasota Herald Tribune, October 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

Sarasota Now Trump Central | Candidate Names Local GOP Chairman Joe Gruters to Lead His Florida Efforts


Anderson, Zac, Sarasota Herald Tribune


ELECTION 2016

Sarasota, get ready to become Trump Central.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign announced Friday that it will open an office in Sarasota and that local GOP chairman Joe Gruters is joining the Trump team as the Florida chairman.

"My message is clearly resonating in Florida," Trump said in a statement. "We have tremendous support from so many great people in the state. I am proud to watch that support grow, to see our team expand and to be leading in the polls here."

The move is a big opportunity for the highly-ambitious Gruters that also comes with some risks.

As Trump's top official in Florida, Gruters will be the face

of a campaign that has rocketed to the top of the polls and is upending the GOP establishment.

Gruters said he expects to be intimately involved with all aspects of Trump's Florida campaign and that the Sarasota office will be the state headquarters.

"The opportunity to lead a campaign that's in the lead and going to win is really incredible," he said.

The position will give Gruters -- who is already the vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida -- more statewide exposure and could create opportunities for him to advance in politics, especially if his candidate wins. He was scheduled to introduce Trump at a big rally in Miami Friday night and will do the same Saturday in Jacksonville.

But Trump is a polarizing figure, who has turned off many with his repeated insults and heated rhetoric on immigration and other issues. Gruters could be risking his future in elected office by taking such a prominent role with a controversial campaign. He is currently running for the state House and could be a candidate for Congress or other offices in the future.

"I'm proud to stand next to Trump," Gruters said when asked about the negative perception of the candidate that many have. "He's somebody special who tells it how it is and I think he's going to be able to unite the country and make America great again."

Gruters will be responsible for leading a campaign against two home state favorites, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

As an early supporter of Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive who had no experience in elected office before beating better-known candidates to become governor in 2010, he has experience backing outsiders against establishment favorites. …

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