Manatee County Republican candidates vying for elected offices were hoping to avoid the gutter and roll a strike as they talked to younger voters Thursday.
“We wanted to do something a little bit different to get young people out meeting their candidates and we thought doing that in a fun, relaxed environment would give people a great opportunity to get to know some of their local candidates,” Manatee County Young Republicans President Michele Connizzo said.
About 12 Republicans candidates running for offices ranging from the local level to state attended the Bowling with the Candidates event at AMF Bradenton Lanes. All Manatee County Republicans running for offices were invited.
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“The candidates were pretty excited that we were doing something different than the typical debate or candidate forum so they were interested to meet people this way,” Connizzo said.
For Steve Vernon, running for state representative in District 73, said the bowling event sounded like fun.
“It will be fun to meet people and fun to bowl,” he said. “Hopefully, it helps out young Republicans of Manatee County.”
It is nice to be able to talk to people in the relaxed environment while having fun, said Misty Servia, who is running for Manatee County School Board District 3.
“I think it is just a great event because everyone is just so relaxed and can really get to know each other,” she said.
As “an unknown,” Kathleen Grant, who is running for the Manatee County Commission District 5 seat, said she has to meet as many people as possible.
“I’m just here to meet the young people,” she said.
Bowling with the young Republicans is a way to interact with them, said Warren Merriman, who is running for Bradenton mayor.
“I think it is important to get young people out and interested in local politics,” he said.
D.J. Hagenwald, a Manatee County Young Republicans member, attended the event to meet people.
“It is a lot better than some of the other formats I’ve seen, so I like it,” the 17-year-old Hagenwald said.
Turning 18 in two weeks, this will be the first election where the Bradenton resident will be able to vote.
“Of all the elections to turn 18 in, this had to be the one,” he said.