Businessman Jake Hoffman is challenging Rep. Susan Valdes for her seat in Florida House District 62, he announced Wednesday.
Hoffman, who has served for the past three years as president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans, has been a vocal opponent to lockdowns and various other COVID-19 restrictions throughout the pandemic affecting small businesses.
“There were virtually no politicians fighting against these crazy mandates,” Hoffman said in a campaign announcement. “What’s the point of continuing to grow our businesses if the government can just destroy it?”
Hoffman co-founded Invasion Digital Media, a company that partners with the National Football League and the Ultimate Fighting Championship to sell digital fitness programs. The company, Hoffman said, was hit hard by pandemic policies, including closing down gyms temporarily.
“Tampa is the best city in the country, and my fiancee and I intend to raise our family here,” Hoffman said. “When hypocritical politicians restrict our ability to go outdoors, and our community leaders remain silent while atrocious public policy is implemented, we’ve crossed into lunacy, and it’s time to bring common sense to the government.”
Hoffman earned three degrees from the University of South Florida, including a master’s in entrepreneurship.
During his leadership tenure with the Young Republicans, he worked this year on the controversial, Republican-backed election bill (SB 90), which implemented election “guardrails” around mail-in ballots and election administration law. Critics decried the bill as voter disenfranchisement, while supporters, like Hoffman, praised it for boosting election security and integrity.
Also under his leadership, the club grew from just 10 members in 2018 to more than 250 now, according to Hoffman. The club earned the 2020 Best Young Republican Club in the nation award in 2020 from the Republican National Federation.
Hoffman was behind the Save Gasparilla boat parade, organized to replace the traditional Gasparilla celebration canceled amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Hoffman also hosts a political podcast called Moderately Outraged with his fiancee, Michelle Sassouni, targeted at young conservatives.
“Political campaigns are light-years behind when it comes to modern digital marketing. I can promise my campaign will be the most creative ever seen at a state level,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman and Sassouni plan to wed in May of next year. They live on Davis Islands.
“I’m done writing articles and petitions trying to convince politicians to listen to the will of the people; it’s time to start writing bills,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman will have an uphill battle flipping HD 62 red. According to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections’ most recent district analysis, the district is deep blue, with 40,793 registered Democrats to 22,623 Republicans.
The district covers parts of the Westshore business district, Tampa International Airport and Town ’N Country. It does not include Davis Islands.