It’s 10 a.m. on a Saturday. The sun is blazing, but there’s a fall nip in the air. He and two volunteers walk from house to house, door to door. His two daughters, Summer and Jordan, both wearing zip-front hoodies, innocently skip ahead the rest of the group. Campaign pamphlets occasionally slip from their tiny hands, leaving a trail for their father to pick up.
Peter Boulware, keeps a watchful eye on the two even while campaigning. Currently the republican nominee candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, District 9 (Leon and Jefferson counties), Boulware regularly “walks” the neighborhoods, knocking on the doors and talking with the residents. (Loranne Ausley, a Democrat, has held the office since 2000, but isn’t running this year. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda, the current Democratic nominee, will be Boulware’s opponent.)
This practice is very common for many politicians — Democrat or Republican. Only, Boulware’s skin tone doesn’t match those who are traditionally affiliated with his political party.
He’s black. But, that doesn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, the Florida House of Representatives already has a black republican in office. Jennifer Carroll represents district 13 (Jacksonville).
Leaving another home and walking to the next, a middle-aged man wearing a white cowboy hat trailing a small child in a red wagon yells, “You’re doing what you need to do. I hope you get in.”
Boulware smiles gratefully at the onlooker and thanks him.
“You know, I never had plans to run for office,” says Boulware, 33. “To be honest with you, this seat presented itself to me, and I said, ‘Let me think about it. Let me pray about it. Let me talk to my wife about it.’ And after we did, we said this is the best way to give back and serve.”
Most know his resume. Boulware is a former NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens. He was also an All-American and National Defensive Player of the Year, while at Florida State University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems in 1997.
But, many might not know why he’s running for office. More importantly, we don’t know why he is a Republican.
“Well, I looked at both parties,” says Boulware. “I started listing some of the things that I valued, some of the things I believed in, some of the things I wanted to do and what I wanted to be a part of … I found out that my values and what I believed in really leaned more toward to being a republican than it does being a democrat.”
The Columbia, S.C., native said that when he was growing up, he thought that if an individual was black, they had to be a democrat.
“I never really thought about saying, ‘let me really see what a democrat is,'” he said. “And once I did that, I said, ‘gosh, just because the color of my skin, I thought I’d be a democrat, but my values and what I believe lean me more toward being in the Republican Party.'”
But, Boulware does acknowledge that the Republican Party has overlooked the black community. That’s something he plans on changing if elected.
“I think that the Republican Party needs to do a better job of getting its message out there,” Boulware said. “Getting what it believes [and] what it stands for out to the African American community… how we can help you,” he said.
Still, “at the end of the day,” which Boulware says quite frequently, he doesn’t consider himself a partisan type of guy. It isn’t about being neither a republican nor a democrat. To him, it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about values.
” I am a fair person, I am honest, I care for the needs that you have,” he said. “I will get the support from the African American community, even though a lot of them are registered democrats. Because people want real people, not just party affiliations.”
One of his core values is hard work. Something he says his parents instilled in him and his three siblings.
“You’ve got to work hard, it’s not up to anybody else,” he said. “It’s not up to the person down the street. It is up to you. It is a personal responsibility. Taking responsibility for your actions.”
Campaigning proudly along with Boulware on that sunny Saturday morning, Katie Patchatt, 26, an administrative assistant in Tallahassee, said, “I’m supporting Peter because I believe he’s a good man. I believe that he really wants what’s best for the area, not just name recognition and power.”
Finishing the first portion of the “walk,” a man in his early 30’s wearing an FSU t-shirt, cheers, “You’re the man. You got my vote!”
Boulware nods his heads thankfully.