Mar 18, 2022 - Politics

Tampa Bay is a young Republicans' paradise

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Jake Hoffman has been calling Tampa the "Young Republicans capital of the world" for years. And now he has proof.

Driving the news: Tampa is the second most desired place Republican college students want to live after graduation, according to the new Axios-Generation Lab Next Cities Index, which tracks rising U.S. work and culture trends through geographic preferences.

  • Austin, Texas is #1.

Hoffman, 31, who is running for Hillsborough County's newly drawn State House District 65, said he's been to GOP hubs all over the nation as president of the Young Republicans of Tampa Bay for the last three years. And nothing compares to Tampa.

  • "There's not a lot of cities doing what we're doing. Everybody's flocking here," the USF grad told Axios.

State of play: The fact that Tampa remained open during the coronavirus pandemic was appealing for Republicans looking for a place to escape lockdowns, Hoffman said.

  • And despite rising housing costs, the city is still relatively affordable compared to other metro areas.
  • "There's opportunities here. It's a boom town in a fledgling city. It's a historic city but there's been a lot of investments here," Hoffman said.

Between the lines: Even though Tampa and St. Petersburg are run by Democrats, Hoffman points out that several of the area's biggest leaders, like Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, were formerly Republicans and have more moderate views.

Plus: Some young Republicans moving to Tampa are bringing millions of followers with them, raising the city's profile.

The intrigue: These young Republicans are part of a new, fresh generation of conservatives, Hoffman says.

  • "We're basically counterculture now. When people think about Republicans they tend to think about an 80-year-old white guy in Washington D.C. That's very far from a 30-year- old from South Florida who grew up with a diverse upbringing."
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