The August 2018 primary election is here, followed closely by the November 2018 general election in Florida and Hillsborough County. Ever wonder whose those people are who are running for School Board, County Commission or statewide offices like the Commissioner of Agriculture? The Tampa Bay area is fortunate with numerous opportunities to meet and see these candidates before casting your vote!

Several of our local Chambers of Commerce are doing political hob nobs to provide a chance to get to know the candidates, network with other attendees, and have a nice evening before casting your ballot. All of these events and include straw polls for attendees to vote in that night, which helps build momentum for the candidate who wins the straw poll. But most importantly, it's an opportunity for you to get to know the people who will drive decisions in both Tampa Bay and statewide and find out where they stand on the issues.

Each event will be different from the other, reflecting the difference in districts and scheduling for candidates. Here are the details for the upcoming hob nobs, meet and greets and straw polls: 

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Political Hob Nob: August 14th, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center. This event always draws a big crowd with plenty of local media attention. Advance tickets are $40 for GTCC members, $50 for non-members and $60 at the door on August 14th. 

The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce 2018 Hob Nob: August 16th, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. This event has a new component this year with craft beer samplings from Pepin Distributing Company, paired with gourmet pizza and finger foods. Tickets are $20 in advance with a special $10 price for students with a valid student I.D. 

“The Brandon Chamber Hob Nob is a great opportunity for voters to personally interact one-on-one with each candidate to see who they feel most closely aligns with their interests and values,” said Ron Pierce, president and CEO of RSA Consulting Group, and one of the sponsors of the The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce event. “This voter-candidate interaction is critical for cultivating relationships and for voters to learn about who is running to represent them in their community.”

Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum: August 21st, 5:30 p.m. meet and greet, program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Trinkle Center in Plant City. This inagural event for the Plant City Chamber is FREE and open to the public. This event has had 45 candidates already confirm their attendance, it is a great final chance to see the candidates interact before the Primary election closes on August 28th. While free, check out their website for updates on candidate confirmations and info for sponsorships. 

The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce 2018 Political Forum: October 2nd, at 6:30 p.m. at The Regent. This will be another free event for the community with no charge for admission or parking. One key difference is this event is after the August primary election, many of the candidates you see at the other events will have been eliminated. Moderators will be local attorney Laurie OHall and Dr. Bryan Thatcher. 

If you have a standing request for a Vote by Mail ballot in Hillsborough County, it has already been mailed out for the primary election. There will be 19 early voting locations open from August 13th to August 26th and the final day to vote in the 2018 primary election in Hillsborough County is August 28th. You can find more info from the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections website. The Supervisor of Elections will announce the results shortly after the polls close at 7 p.m. on August 28th. 

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