On Thursday, August 25th, The Republican Party of Polk County held their annual Lincoln Day Dinner at The Club at Eaglebrook in south Lakeland. Nearly 100 loyal Republican supporters turned out for an evening of great food, friendship and informative and inspiring speeches.
REC Chairman Jim Guth opened the event by introducing the Masters of Ceremonies: Wes Davis, Central Florida Director for the Republican Party of Florida: and, Vice-President of Florida Southern College's Republican Club, Kassidy Watkins. The invocation and Pledge of Allegiance was led by Henry Dahl.
Elected officials in attendance included: Stacy Butterfield, Polk County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller; Neil Combee, District 39 State Representative; Lori Cuningham, District 2 Polk County School Board Member; John Hall, District 5 Polk County Commissioner; Mike La Rosa, District 42 State Representative; George Lindsey, District 1 Polk County Commissioner; Tom Rooney, District 17 U.S. Representative; Kelli Stargel, District 15 State Senator; and, John Wood, District 41 State Representative.
Following a series of short speeches by a variety of State and local candidates for office, those in attendance were treated to a fabulous dinner consisting of prime rib, asparagus and roasted potatoes. The meal was nearly outdone by dessert, a slice of cheesecake topped with blueberry glaze and a sprinkling of real blueberries provided by Bill Braswell.
On a sad note, our scheduled keynote speaker, Adam Putnam, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services was unable to attend the event due to the passing of his brother, William Dudley 'Will" Putnam, III, earlier in the day. On behalf of all of our members, The Republican Party of Polk County wishes to extend our most sincere condolences to the Putnam family at this most difficult time. Out thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Filling in Commissioner Putnam's big shoes, a rousing keynote speech was instead given by our sockless U.S. District 17 Representative, Tom Rooney. Congressman Rooney took the opportunity to share his recollections of growing up in Palm Beach County as a friend of the Trump family, and went on to lay out the case for those Republicans who can't seem to bring themselves to support Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The Congressman remarked that up until several months ago, he was leading the charge to win Florida's Republican delegates for Marco Rubio, and that State Representative Neil Combee was serving in a similar role for Ted Cruz. Now, both men are supporting the Republican standard bearer, despite the fact that he's about as far as you can get from being a seasoned politician. Yes, he's untested...he makes mistakes...he rubs some people the wrong way...but in the final analysis, he has one critically important thing going for him. He's NOT Hillary Rodham Clinton!
Chairman Guth closed out the evening with an impassioned plea to support the party's efforts to elect our Republican candidates at all levels, and we are already seeing that his appeal did not fall on deaf ears. We need your support in whatever way you are able to give it, and we need it right away! As you can see in the photos above, the Grand Old Party had a grand old time that night. To all those who helped set up the event, to those who came, and to the candidates and elected officials who took time out of their busy schedules to join us, we sincerely thank you for your support. See you next year!