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District 73 candidate says he is trained to be a leader

The retired Air Force lieutenant colonel says his military background is key for his run at the state House.

Tommy Gregory is running for the District 73 seat in the state House.
Tommy Gregory is running for the District 73 seat in the state House.
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Knocking on more than 1,000 doors in the Lakewood Ranch area, Tommy Gregory said he was met with one overwhelming concern from residents.

“People feel the Constitution is under attack,” said Gregory, a retired Air Force veteran who now is a Sarasota attorney.

Gregory, a Republican, announced in March he was running for the state House District 73  seat held by Joe Gruters, who is running for the state Senate. In a short period, he has tried to meet as many voters as possible.

“They are upset,” said Gregory, who works with the Williams Parker Harrison Dietz and Getzen law firm of Sarasota. “They have Republican values, and they are being shouted down by the left. They feel there is no civil discourse.

“I have spent my entire life defending the Constitution.”

His said his military background — he graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and retired on 2014 after 20 years as a lieutenant colonel — will be a key in his race against Republican Melissa Howard and Democrat Liv Coleman. 

Although none of the three candidates has experience as an elected official, Gregory said voters would be sending a seasoned veteran to the Legislature when it comes to leadership if he is their pick.

He said that is key because it won’t be easy for the District 73 representative to compete for leadership positions to enact change.

“I’m already a leader,” he said. “I’ve trained my whole life to be one.”

His military background includes 14 years as a judge advocate general prosecutor and time as a contracts manager. He holds an undergraduate degree in economics.

“My military background has prepared me to handle things at the highest level,” he said from his home, just north of Fruitville Road and east of Lorraine Road in eastern Sarasota County. “I have worked interagency issues. I have worked with other branches of the government. I have worked with other governments.”

He said his experience includes working with legislators from around the state, a fact he said will give him credibility if he is elected.

“I have the experience to debate public policy issues,” he said. “In the military, I was tasked with giving people news they didn’t want to hear. My skin already is thick. Professionalism already is ingrained in me. I can take the attacks, and the way I am going to respond is professionally. Do we want to send somebody who isn’t ready to have public scrutiny of their behavior? We can’t send someone in unprepared.”

Gregory, 46, has been married for 22 years to Erica, who also retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. They have three boys, 16-year-old Grant, 15-year-old Eric and 13-year-old Noah.

He was asked why he is still “Tommy” and not “Tom.”

“Tommy is my legal name on my birth certificate,” he said with a laugh. “My dad, Thomas Gregory, and my mom, Linda, didn’t want to call me ‘Junior.’ And in the military, my first name wasn’t used for 20 years.”

He categorizes himself as an outdoorsman who grew up hunting deer and wild pigs with his dad. He said he is a fierce competitor who lived the code “Respect everyone, fear no one” in the military. He says he is a serious man who almost always is smiling. He also describes himself as a

He said three major reasons signal the time is right for him to go to the Legislature.

The first is to protect individual rights. The second is to further strengthen the economy (he supports President Donald Trump’s economic policies). The third is to increase respect for law enforcement.

“We need to return society to one that respects the law,” he said.

Overall, he said he can “step into the job and do it from Day 1.”

And why do it at all? Doesn’t the public tend to be negative when it comes to politicians?

“Nothing is as rewarding as helping people,” he said.


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