Zemina is a relative newcomer to the Libertarian Party and is running for the Florida State House Dist. 58 seat that will hold its special election on Dec. 19. While he’s new to the LP, he’s not new to questioning the status quo and searching for an alternative when it comes to government.
Now he is the alternative, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Dist. 58 race will have Zemina, Democrat Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa, Republican primary winner Lawrence McClure and NPA Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin on the ballot. McClure won the October Republican primary by 9.8%. The district — located solely in eastern Hillsborough County — mixes rural areas with municipalities like Plant City and Temple Terrace. The word ‘diverse’ comes to mind when describing Dist. 58’s constituency.
Zemina feels he’s the perfect guy to tie this unique area together.
Zemina was born in Largo and in third grade moved over to the Riverview area in Hillsborough County, Florida. His parents still live in the house he was raised in. After graduating from East Bay High School in Gibsonton, he decided to pack his bags and head to Indiana to Rose-Hulman where not only did he major in mechanical engineering, he also managed to letter in two sports – football and baseball.
After graduating from college, he moved back to the Tampa Bay area.
When it comes to frustration with nagging local regulations and red tape, Zemina’s eyes first crossed after he and his wife Chrissy purchased their first home in Temple Terrace in 2010. He went to Home Depot to purchase fencing materials to construct his own fence-line, only to be slapped in the face with a notice that he was violating permit rules.
Like many property owners, he felt like local government was crossing the line and he decided to ‘tune in’ more intently — and he has.
His diehard interest in politics also came in 2010 when current Florida Governor Rick Scott was running against Democrat challenger Alex Sink. Zemina wasn’t excited about either one of them and began vetting the other candidates in the race. He decided to vote for an NPA candidate named Daniel Imperato.
CAMPAIGN PAGE: For Bryan Zemina
BALLOTPEDIA: Learn more, Bryan Zemina’s page
The seed of not only seeking out an alternative leader to vote for — and later being the alternative — was germinating. After donating to Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson last year, he was on an email list that connected him with passionate Hillsborough Libertarian leaders Susan Stanley and Kevin O’Neill, and here he is today. They met, and a Libertarian candidacy was born.
Zemina is one of only eight Libertarian candidates in Florida history to qualify to get on the ballot in a FL State House, State Senate or U.S. House special election.
“The way I look at this, Libertarians are for reducing government and everything stems from that,” Zemina told TLI. “In every walk of life, there is a group that would benefit from reducing government.”
Being a mechanical engineer, Zemina takes a disciplined approach to what could be done while in a State House seat.
“Engineering is analytics,” Zemina said. “You look at the pros and cons of an issue, but not the emotion. What is the benefit? Is it worth it? Does it make sense? Not, ‘Do I feel like I want to do this?'”
FLORIDA DISTRICT 58: Current demographics
FLORIDA DISTRICT 58: Detailed map
Zemina is quick to point out the hypocrisy of not only big government in general, but even with his opposition.
“Both Republican candidates (prior to the primary) are anti-sanctuary, but they both support the farming industry which needs migrant workers,” Zemina said. “So if we kick out the migrant workers, does my glass of orange juice go from 2$ to 4$?
“These people are here to improve their lives, and it’s very rare to find an American citizen who would do those jobs. To me it’s a win, win, win. Why attack people who are doing no wrong? And to speak so two-faced about the issues on your own website?”
When it comes to Zemina’s hot-button issues, his first goal would be to get on the finance committee to have an effect when it comes to the state budget. The campaign financing debate, reducing the tax burden on individuals and small businesses and the decriminalization of marijuana are all topics he would attack on day one (read more about Zemina’s stance on the issues).
He feels the biggest thing he has going for him is obvious. It is the same thing that interested him in 2010 in voting for Imperato for Governor.
“To this day, I don’t know what (Imperato’s) party affiliation is, I just know that my wife and I both liked what he had to say, his stances on issues,” Zemina said. “From that point forward we’ve both been much more interested in politics and the alternatives to the mainstream options.”
NOTE: District 58’s seat came open earlier this year when Plant City native Dan Raulerson (R) — who won the Nov. 2016 election — resigned citing health and business concerns. The spurred December’s special election.