Al Austin draws the responsibility of ensuring that the Republican convention runs like a well-oiled machine later this month.
The 83-year-old GOP stalwart is chairman of Tampa’s host committee for the event. The successful real estate developer estimates he has raised “probably a couple hundred million” dollars for local, state, and national politicians, Politico
reports. He has served as a delegate or alternate at every party convention in the last 40 years.
This year’s convention represents the sum total of his professional and political activity. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush calls Austin “a real-deal Republican,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls him “tenacious,” and host committee CEO Ken Jones calls him “one of the most persistent human beings I’ve ever met.”
Those are good qualities to have as Austin toils non-stop to bring home the final portion of the $55 million the committee needs to run the convention. This is “more important to him than anything else,” except family, his wife Beverly tells Politico.
And how does Austin view himself. “I’m a visionary,” he told Politico. “I believe in doing stuff that other people haven’t done.”
In real estate that meant helping to build Tampa into the major league city that it has become. The convention will help reinforce that status. “We will be more than ever before recognized as an emerging American city,” Buckhorn told Politico. Tampa Bay & Co. President Kelly Miller echoed that sentiment, telling the news service, “It will forever change people’s perception of the Tampa Bay area.”
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