For Florida’s Senior Voters, Election Is About More Than Medicare



Silas Simmons, 109, leaves a polling place after casting his ballot November 2, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Tim Boyles/Getty Images)

“Sometimes I think there’s a perception that Florida is God’s waiting room,” Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith told me, in an interview about Florida voters.

Although old voters make up only a quarter of the state’s electorate, they have a strong reputation because of their reliability. The issues they care about however, can’t be nailed down to just Social Security and Medicare.

Here’s a link to my Here & Now story, which aired nationally March 14.


This Guy Is Running For President, And So Are More Than 200 Others

Ryan Shepard looks on. | Sean McGinnis Scanlon/Courtesy of Shepard 2016 Campaign

Ryan Shepard looks on. | Sean McGinnis Scanlon/Courtesy of Shepard 2016 Campaign


It’s not hard to reach presidential candidate Ryan Shepard; he doesn’t have a media relations office or a slick-tongued press secretary.

Shepard, 40, is a bartender at Roc Brewing Co. in Rochester, N.Y., while also working toward a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at nearby SUNY Brockport. He plans to enroll in an master of fine arts writing program after he graduates.

He is also just as much a candidate for U.S. president as Ted Cruz, who was billed by many as the first and only candidate to file so far.

“I’m doing something,” says Shepard, when asked about his campaign. “You know, people can complain about the government all they want, but you see very few people actually attempting to do anything. A lot of those people don’t even vote.”

Cruz got 13,000 retweets when he announced on Twitter. Shepard shared a photo announcing his campaign on Facebook, and got eight likes.

You can read and listen to the rest of this piece, as it originally aired nationally on All Things Considered on April 6 , 2015.