It’s the closest these Floridians will ever get to an actual snow day.
The threat of Isaac canceled most official business at the Republican National Convention Monday. But the storm went west, sending a little wind and rain to Tampa. The typical summer afternoon thunderstorm is worse.
So members of Florida’s delegation were free to engage in a political snowball fight — they ate, partied and trashed a political traitor: former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.
They started the party Sunday night with a convention kickoff at Tropicana Field. Then, buses brought them back to their hotel for another reception.
Steve Zieman from Gulf Breeze in the Panhandle drank a beer and smiled after getting an update on Isaac. He almost didn’t make it. “I had to decide whether or not the storm was really going to go on that course. But I wanted to support America,” said Zieman.
The delegates partied into the night, yet they still made it to an 8 a.m. breakfast with the South Carolina delegation.
Both delegations were exiled to the Innisbrook Golf Resort, almost an hour away from downtown Tampa.
It’s the punishment both states received for moving up their presidential primaries earlier this year.
“We are proud to be at Innisbrook in primary purgatory with our brothers and sisters from Florida,” said South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Conley.
It was a pleasant purgatory. The resort features lush green golf courses outside and opulent chandeliers and other decor inside.
At breakfast, incoming Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford talked about the news of the day: Former Republican turned independent Crist had not only endorsed President Obama; he had agreed to speak at the Democratic National Convention.
Crist says his former party has become too extreme — but Weatherford wasn’t buying it.
“Speaking of winds blowing and people shifting positions,” said Weatherford, “the Florida Republican Party had a former member of the Republican Party by the name of Charlie Crist, who’s decided not to be a part of our party anymore.”
The audience joined in with jeers and boos, enjoying a chance to dis Crist in his home county.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam added, “What does he stand for except himself? It’s unbelievable. He’ll wear any costume just to get in the parade.”
Gina Jordan works for State Impact Florida , a reporting project of local media and NPR. She’s a reporter and producer for WLRN-Miami Herald News.