TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa entrepreneur Jake Hoffman is determined to run for a seat in the Florida state House next year, though with redistricting yet to be completed, he’s not exactly certain in which district he’ll be running in. But he says that wasn’t going to deter him from declaring his candidacy last September.
“I need to get in and let them do the politics up there in Tallahassee and then win in the district that’s presented to me,” he says about his candidacy for the House District 62 seat currently held by Democrat Susan Valdes. Hoffman doesn’t actually live in the district, however. He’s a Davis Islands resident, which puts him in House District 60, currently occupied by fellow Republican Jackie Toledo.
What You Need To Know Every legislative and congressional district in Florida will be redrawn next year as part of the once-a-decade process following completion of the U.S. Census.
Jake Hoffman has filed to run for the House District 62 seat, currently held by Democrat Susan Valdes.
Hoffman is the President of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans. There is speculation that Toledo may run for another legislative or perhaps a congressional seat next year once the redistricting and reapportionment process is completed, which won’t be for a few more months. That would open the seat up for Hoffman to run for the GOP nomination in House District 60.
Toledo says she’s not thinking of anything but representing her constituents in Tallahassee when the session begins next month.
“I’m honored to serve the residents of District 60 in the Florida House and I’m focused on that going into the legislative session,” she wrote in a text to Spectrum Bay News 9.
“We don’t really know how things are going to be cut up until they’re done, and so it’s hard for me to speculate, other than to tell you that I’m not going to be dropping out and I will find a district to run in,” Hoffman says about his political plans.
Hoffman, 31, is a Palm Beach County native who has called Tampa his home since he moved here to attend USF 13 years ago (where he earned three degrees, including a Master’s in Entrepreneurship). He runs a digital media startup that works with professional athletes and sells digital classes online. He says they are similar to MasterClass courses.
Hoffman calls himself a “millennial conservative” and says that many of his GOP contemporaries are actually reminiscent of 60s liberals – beginning with the fact that they don’t support U.S. military action into foreign wars.
“We’ve changed our minds on things like drugs and gay marriage and all of these other things and now we’re the ones fighting for freedom of speech and freedom of religion and all of these other things that people were fighting for back in the 60s and have always associated with liberals but now, that’s the conservatives that are fighting for that,” he says.
But make no mistake: Hoffman is a proud Republican, and adamantly supports Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies, particularly when it comes to how his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his election reforms.
In fact, Hoffman says that the governor’s proposed election reform legislation (which ultimately led to the passage in the 2021 session of SB 90, now the subject of several lawsuits), was preceded by a paper that he wrote on what Florida needed to do following the 2020 election when it came to election integrity.
That prompts the question: Who does Hoffman believe won the 2020 presidential election?
“I believe that Joe Biden won the election,” he says, before quickly adding that, “I just believe that the rules in which we used were flawed.”
Specifically, he is critical of the supervisors of elections around the country (including 12 in Florida) who accepted grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life for election administration assistance. Approximately $250 million of those earmarked funds came from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Conservatives have seized on a report that the organization spent the majority of those funds in counties that ultimately supported Joe Biden in the last election.
And his thoughts on January 6th, when rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol?
“I’m a firm believer that everybody that entered the Capitol that day should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he says. However, he takes exception to the narrative that it was an organized event designed to overturn the results of the presidential election.
“I think that you had thousands and thousands upon thousands of people who were there to protest the irregularities of the election,” he says. “And they didn’t know that they were going to get into a situation where there were going to be people breaking into the Capitol. There were very, very few people who had the intention of doing that. And I don’t think that it was this big organized plot that they’re trying to make it out to be.”
Hoffman says he supports Republicans (like former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows) who are refusing to cooperate with the House Select Committee investigating what led to the events of that day.
“It’s a very partisan exercise to try to push all of the evils on to a few people and say it’s entirely their fault,” he says, adding that if the committee (which includes seven Democrats and two Republicans) was truly being fair, they would interview House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as members of the FBI. “I think that there are people there who don’t want any of that stuff to come out,” he says.
Hoffman spoke to Spectrum Bay News 9 just a few days after he returned from Phoenix, where he attended Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest, an event designed for young political conservatives like himself.
“They’ve made it cool,” he says of Turning Point USA’s events. “They’ve got all of the energy in the youth political movement, because there’s absolutely nothing like this on the left, and it’s replacing things like the Young Republicans or the College Republicans, or any of the youth groups.”
Since entering the House District 62 race in September, Hoffman has raised more than $62,000 ($50,000 came from himself). In addition to Valdes, the other declared Republican in the race is Maura Cruz Lanz. She has loaned $2,000 to her campaign so far.