MANATEE -- Since 2008, former state Sen. Pat Neal of Bradenton has supported presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign to become president of the United States.
During the 2008 Republican primary election, Neal, a prominent real estate developer, backed Romney, personally and financially. The nomination went to Arizona Sen. John McCain.
But Neal continued to support Romney during his push for the 2012 Republican nomination. Last year, Neal was appointed to Romney's Social Conservative Steering Committee and was named co-chairman of his Florida campaign.
Romney will officially be named the Republican nominee for the presidential election this week dur
ing the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
"I've been involved in state politics for 40 years," Neal said. "I follow conservative causes that are important to me. I like the potential of his economic leadership and his social views."
Though he has invested time and money into Romney's campaign, if Romney is elected president, Neal said joining his administration will not happen.
"I'm a real estate developer," Neal said. "This about electing a conservative president with mainstream issues. I don't have a personal agenda at all."
Neal has known Romney since 2005.
"The biggest personal benefit is knowing the people who will form the new administration, if there is a new administration," he said. "I don't see any personal benefit. It is simply part of my avocation of politics and knowing and having the ability to change public policy and the way our government operates." Neal did not, however, rule out running for a political office again.
"I would never say I'm completely done with politics," he said. "Gov. (Romney) and I have never discussed a position for me. We have discussed a position for others. I did apply for a subcabinet position under (former president Ronald) Reagan and was not selected."
Neal will be heavily involved at the convention. He was expected to speak at the Faith and Freedom Celebration at the Tampa Theatre. He will also attend a breakfast gathering for Drug Free America, of which he is a board member, and will attend Ohio and Iowa caucus meetings, as well as Florida caucus meetings.
"This is my fifth Republican convention," he said. "I went to my first convention in 1968."
As cochair of Romney's Florida campaign, Neal has raised money through various contacts. With the primary over, he's now focused on raising money for Romney for the general election.
"He has matured as a candidate," Neal said. "I've said Mitt Romney is a better candidate. He's been a much more successful candidate than he was in 2008. My level of commitment is higher."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams