BROOKSVILLE — The political field is quickly gaining momentum as the next election cycle takes hold of the media. And local conservatives aren’t waiting until 2020 to roll out strategy for a second term for President Donald Trump.
On July 20, Scott Ryan Presler, a conservative activist with hundreds of thousands of social media followers and is known as #ThePersistence, made a stop in Brooksville on his national quest to register Republican voters. And he presented activism training to a packed house at Harmony House, in Clover Leaf Farms.
Brooksville resident Denise Ledbetter, founder and president of Women for Trump Hernando, spearheaded Presler’s visit. The two had met at a rally in Washington, D.C., in 2017.
“I had seen him on Twitter and Facebook before I’d met him in person,” she said.
She saw him again at another major rally and the two became social media friends. She learned from his posts that Presler was planning to hit Florida hard with activism training sessions geared toward registering as many GOP voters as possible.
“I don’t know what it was but I realized we needed him here,” Ledbetter said of Presler.
So, she reached out and Presler accepted the invite as part of a four-city tour that ended in Sarasota. “We started putting it together to bring him here. And the only thing he asked for was accommodations,” Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter, who moved to eastern Hernando County in March, after being displaced by Hurricane Michael, is an active Republican who ran a similar group in Bay County. She immediately sunk her anchors into the local political environment.
“The Florida Republican Party has a lot of control out of Hernando,” Ledbetter said, a big motivator for attracting Presler.
And Presler agreed that Florida is a vital state and he hit four important cities in four days. Brooksville was first, attracting 75 to the event.
He was warned not to expect too much from Brooksville because of its small size. “But you guys did fantastic,” he said. “You guys turned it out and had such great energy.”
His next three stops, in Tampa attracted 120, in Clearwater 75 and in Sarasota 155.
“I will go anywhere, talk to anyone,” he said.
Presler visited a few landmarks during his time in Brooksville, including Coney Island Drive-Inn. He also worked the Women for Trump table at Christmas in July the morning of his Activism Training.
The event was designed to motivate conservatives to register as many eligible voters as possible before November 2020. His discussion was animated, entertaining and inspiring.
“We are family,” he said to mostly women in attendance. “Let’s start acting like family.”
He gave a quick synopsis of his passion for the GOP he has had since being inspired in 2016. Since then he has become a vocal participant in promoting conservatism while encouraging voter registration.
“The reason why I’m here today is because Andrew Gillum is working in your state,” Presler said, referring to the former mayor of Tallahassee, a Democrat who ran unsuccessful for governor in 2018. “He wants to register one million voters and flip your state to blue. And we are simply not going to allow that to happen.”
The room erupted in applause.
Presler has since made national news by organizing a Baltimore Cleanup on Aug. 5, in response to President Trump’s tweets about the condition of Baltimore, which were met with angry replies from U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and other Democrats.
“I’m tired of people saying, ‘I wish there was something we could do,’ ” Presler said in a phone interview. “So I’m doing it.”
The Baltimore initiative began with a single Twitter post on July 28. “Next week, I'm coming to Baltimore.
I'm organizing a trash clean up in the city.
“If you're free on a week day, after work, please comment below for more details.”
Even Presler was impressed with the outpouring of support. “I didn’t know this was going to turn into something this big. I thought it was going to be me, picking up trash on a street corner.”
He added: “I'm not doing this just to have people vote for Donald Trump. I'm not doing this just to have people vote Republican. If I truly am a conservative activist that cares about my country, then I'm going to do this because it's the right thing.”
More than 230 volunteers showed up to help early on a Monday morning in Baltimore. Groups were divided into shifts and slowly the transformation began.
“Today was better than I could have hoped for,” Presler said in a text after the event in Maryland had wrapped up. “Not only did hundreds of volunteers come to pick up 12 tons of trash, but local citizens from the neighborhood came to help us. This was truly the community coming together, and we’re already planning another Baltimore trash cleanup.”