By Tom Tillison
I just learned that my friend Robin Stublen passed away at the age of 61 from cancer and I’m heartbroken to think that he died so young.
Robin was very much his own man. He could be cantankerous as hell, but was one of a precious few who fought to keep the Florida tea party movement, one of the more active movements in the country at the time, true to its conscience when the RPOF and other moneyed interests were working hard to move in.
A troubling time within the state movement, when principled leaders willing to set aside personal ambition were scarce.
By the sheer force of his will, Robin could move mountains. When there was a fight to be had, you wanted this man on your side. He could be a bull in a china shop and had more than his share of detractors, but when it was time to go to the mattresses, Robin was there.
Robin was the founder of the Punta Gorda Tea Party and a leading force in the support of Rick Scott for governor way back when. He succeeded in getting the tea party a seat at the table when Scott was elected governor in 2011, being brought on board as Gov. Scott’s deputy public liaison director — in effect, this was a tea party outreach position.
As we would soon learn, the Tallahassee power structure had its own ideas about who would be influencing the governor, building a bureaucratic wall around Scott. Despite a close relationship with Scott, Robin was effectively shut out, not allowed access to the governor’s ear and this bothered him tremendously — that Gov. Scott allowed this to happen didn’t help matters.
With no avenue forward, he would soon move to a role as a communications specialist with the Florida Department of Transportation.
Robin and I had a splitting of the ways during the 2016 election over Donald Trump, but that was Robin. A more passionate individual when it comes to this country, you could not meet. A man willing to stand for what he believed to be right, even if that meant he stood alone.
I regret that we didn’t reconcile before his passing, but I know it was inevitable that we would have, we’re too much alike in so many ways.
In the end, the willingness to stand alone, if needed, is the mark of a true leader and a greater tribute I could not offer. I thank you, Robin, for your service. May you rest in peace, my brother.