The night before the primary election, he drove around putting up signs showing off his name in bright, bold print.
Frank Cirillo, a USF graduate-turned-state-Senate-hopeful, said he knew the odds were stacked against him. Nevertheless, he remained optimistic to be a part of creating change in his beloved Florida.
That enthusiasm dimmed as the results began to pour in Tuesday night, indicating his opponent would take the nomination in a 58 to 42 percent victory, according to SaintPetersBlog.
“I was disappointed but still optimistic because it’s very rare to win your first race, especially at such a young age,” said Cirillo. “I’m hopeful for the future.”
His age of 21 was one of the major issues Cirillo faced on the campaign trail.
“People prejudge you for being so young,” Cirillo said. “I had one gentlemen tell me I should just get a paper route because I had no business being in politics, and he didn’t even listen to what actual experience I had in government.”
He found the best way to combat this stereotype was to list his resume and long record of political involvement to show that though he was young, he was far from inexperienced.
“I want to prove that young people actually care about our future and want to have a voice in Florida’s future,” said Cirillo.
Cirillo graduated in just three years at USF with a dual degree in economics and political science.
During his time at the university, he was involved in Student Government first as a senator at-large and then solicitor general; as well as a trail boss of the Order of the Golden Brahman, a leadership society at USF; and a founding father of USF chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity.
Cirillo said he feels Florida is frequently thought of as a retiree state and believes it is time to change that perception. Job creation was a major component of his platform and is a problem he believes must be taken seriously during the election.
The issues he’s most passionate about, namely the environment, education and the economy are all issues his opponent, Frank Alcock, will now defend against the republican incumbent Greg Steube.
As for Cirillo, he plans to take a moment to relax after an “exhausting” campaign before beginning his search for a job. While he is unsure exactly what his next step is, he said he knows politics will always be something he is involved in.
His experience in this election reinforced the idea that funds are crucial to a successful campaign. He ran without the support of a PAC, raising $9,893, compared to the $49,465 raised by Alcock, according to an article by the Herald-Tribune.
Whether he runs for Senate or a local office will depend on when he chooses to revisit his pursuit of public office, but Cirillo is confident his political career is far from over.
“I know I’m going to run again,” Cirillo said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be in the next five years or the next 25 years, but I definitely want to have some support behind me before going at it again.”