Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Jay Shapiro | April 20, 2020
Can you share a little about your background and how you got started?
I was born in Colorado and raised on a small cattle ranch outside of Denver. The daughter of a single mother, I was taught the value of hard work at a very early age and was active in 4-H, rodeo, and sports growing up. As the 3rd generation in the family business of monuments and commercial sandblasting, I learned early on in life the pressures and challenges that small family businesses face ranging from labor challenges to regulations. In 2011, my family received the devastating news that they lost their cattle ranch due to an Obama-era housing program and were forced to evict.
After being homeless for several months, I was contacted by Ted Yoho about joining his campaign in Florida. Motivated by a lifetime of big government pressure and my most recent personal experience with the failures of a big government program, I agreed and traveled to Florida in September of 2011. Upon my arrival in Florida, I joined the Ted Yoho for Congress campaign as Ted's campaign manager and helped secure Ted's victory in the 2012 national upset election.
Most recently, I served as Congressman Ted Yoho’s Deputy Chief of Staff on issues ranging from politics, strategy, and communications. Specifically, in my capacity as Deputy Chief of Staff, I was responsible for the Congressman’s economic development programs, grants, district foreign trade and diplomacy efforts, and district and State-wide communications. As the head of the Congressman’s various advisory councils, I communicated on behalf of the numerous committees on issues and legislation related to the Congressman and his work. Finally, I maintained oversight of the Congressman’s Human Trafficking Task Force. During my time in Congressman Yoho's office, I successfully led the efforts to secure four new VA clinics within the district as well as crafted the framework of a successful economic development program called Project Putnam.
I am a graduate of the Metropolitan State University of Denver where I earned a degree in International Relations with an Emphasis on Trade and Commerce and a minor in Economics. I received my Master’s degree in National Defense and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College. In 2015, I was awarded 30 under 30 for National Politics in 2016 by Red Alert Politics. I am the incoming President of the Newberry Jonesville Chamber of Commerce and sit on the board of the Alachua County NRA Foundation. I am also the founder and President of Grit Strategies, a media, marketing and consulting firm. We recently celebrated our six-year anniversary.
I am married to Gainesville native, Matt Harrison who is a Firefighter/Paramedic & SWAT Medic. Together, we co-founded a non-profit organization called “The Grit Foundation” whose mission is to support local law enforcement, first responders, and veterans. Together, we enjoy traveling, skeet shooting, fishing and keeping up with their chickens, ducks, and dogs. We are proud to call Gainesville home.
Which Republican or conservative thinkers inspire you both past and present?
I am inspired by principled Conservative thinkers who do not allow for the status quo in Washington to force them to falter from their mission--to defend the American people from the infringement of the government. I am first and foremost inspired by our founding fathers who were willing to put everything on the line for their belief that our rights come from God - not government. The vision and courage of our founding fathers to create a system that has given the world the greatest experiment in self-governance is the driving motivation behind my desire to be involved in politics. President Donald Trump is someone who I look to as a force against all odds. Despite everything, he has withstood incredible adversity, hatred, and controversy. His resilience is inspiring. Today, I am inspired by people like Senator Rand Paul who fight day-in and day-out on the front lines against the party of big government. Rand is an ardent defender of the Constitution and will never shy away from a fight to limit government and protect individual liberties in Washington. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my mentor and friend, Congressman Ted Yoho. Having worked alongside him for the last 8 years both on politics and policy, I have seen first-hand his willingness to buck the establishment time and time again in the name of principle. Through it all, he has maintained his kindness, drive and work ethic. With the extremists on the Left growing bolder in their push for socialism every day, we need conservative leaders now more than ever.
Are you more of a Stalwart Registered Republican, Libertarian or other with respect to your political thought process?
I am an American who happens to be a registered Republican. I am running as a Constitutional Conservative and tend to be more fiscally conservative with the belief that less government is better government. I believe that our rights come from God - not government and as such the government should have a limited scope in our daily lives. When it comes to voting and legislating, my starting and ending point is the U.S. Constitution.
What do you see as the single most important thing you can help with?
The single most important thing that I can help with is advancing an America First agenda. That includes securing our borders, bringing American manufacturing back to our shores, securing our global supply chains, reducing federal spending and balancing the budget. To that end, I believe that the greatest threat to our Constitutional Republic is our out-of-control spending and national debt. Washington does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. We need bold leaders who will look to cut taxes, reform our tax code to make the system flatter and fairer, and significantly reduce spending. These very difficult discussions and subsequent actions are needed to address this problem before it is too late.
Anything additional you'd like to add? Why vote for you?
Republicans have long had the right message -- less taxes, more freedom, free markets, and individual rights. However, the left has dominated the narrative that they are the future and conservatives are the past. As a millennial and as a female, I am a new messenger of our traditional values. I am a representative of the next generation of Republicans, being threatened by the divisive nature of the Left. It is not enough to be “technically right” anymore - we have to win the hearts and minds of the next generation and it starts with sending one of our own to Capitol Hill.
How can we vote for you and are districts pertinent?
I am running to replace outgoing Congressman Ted Yoho for Florida’s Third Congressional District. It is made up of six counties: Alachua, Clay, Bradford, Marion, Putnam and Union. On August 18th, the Congressional Primary in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District will take place in these six counties.You can learn more about our campaign at www.KatforCongress.com or follow up on social media.