Republican delegate Peter Costa Jr. of Barrington expects to see “organized chaos” at the GOP National Convention in Tampa next week.
Costa isn’t talking about Tropical Storm Isaac, which could sweep over central Florida on Monday, Aug. 27 -- the first day of the convention at the Tamp Bay Times Forum.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Costa numerous times in 15 minutes. “For someone who is 22 years old, just out of college and getting this opportunity, this is a good learning experience.”
Only a full-fledged hurricane seems capable of damping his enthusiasm for the convention.
“Maybe we’ll just have some heavy rain one day,” Costa said.
Costa leaves Sunday morning for the convention. He’ll return to Barrington next Friday, Aug. 30. In between, he said, who knows what to expect -- inside and outside the convention.
Costa said his election last April in the RI Presidential Preference Primary was “an unexpected surprise.” He is a delegate for presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“I read about my election in Patch,” said Costa, who edged out another Barrington delegate candidate, Giovanni Cicione, a former state Republican chairman, for the final spot in District 1 by 19 votes.
“I had no real name recognition,” he said. “But I guess I had enough.”
Since the election, Costa said, he has been planning the trip south to Tampa. Like all delegates, he said, he is paying for the trip out of his own pocket. It will cost him about $2,000, he estimates. He doesn’t seem to mind.
“I’ve always wanted to go to a convention,” Costa said. “To see how the process works.”
“I think it will be fun to be on the floor of the convention,” he said. “There could be a historic political moment.”
He referred to President Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic convention as just such a moment. It thrust him into the national spotlight when he was an Illinois state senator.
Costa has been attending preparation meetings in Rhode Island, getting emails daily, and chatting with past delegates about what to expect, he said. But he still isn’t sure what he has gotten himself involved in.
“I know I’ll be voting on the Republican platform,” he said. “And voting on the candidates, of course.”
And there will be plenty of speeches each evening during prime time, 6 to 10 pm, and lots of other festivities, starting with an all-delegates event Sunday evening.
Costa will miss several days of classes at the Roger Williams University Law School in Bristol to serve as a delegate. He’s cleared it with all of his professors.
And he will have to put his campaign for the District 67 seat in the RI House of Representatives on hold as well. He is challenging Democratic incumbent Jan Malik of Warren in his first race for public office.
The convention is a higher priority at this time, though. He said he simply wouldn’t forgo this “learning experience.”
Now if Isaac just cooperates.