In 2016, Jacksonville Republican Clay Yarborough emerged from a competitive primary in House District 12, where a variety of business interests – including gambling interests – sought to sink him.
Those efforts were for naught. Yarborough won his primary by nearly 10 points.
Yarborough is running for his second term, in a Republican-plurality district against a Democrat who can’t match his fundraising. But his re-election bid won’t be his only focus for the next few weeks.
On Thursday, “Voters in Charge” (a political committee supportive of Amendment 3, which would allow for voters in the future to decide on new casinos) rolled out its Northeast Florida leadership committee.
And Yarborough is the chair of that regional panel.
Yarborough, who has been a reliable social conservative policy voice since he joined the Jacksonville City Council in 2007, noted that he was “motivated to engage because the voters statewide have previously spoken on this, but the state attempts to work around it every year.”
He also acknowledges that there may be political blowback.
“I understand different groups are motivated to support those they believe are aligned on issues important to them,” Yarborough said.
Indeed, the issue is a polarizing one even in Yarborough’s Jacksonville. Agitating heavily for the opposing “No on 3” campaign is Ali Korman Shelton, a former senior staffer in City Hall whose family business includes bestbet and its kennel club affiliates.
Yarborough is not alone, however, in supporting the proposed amendment.
The group backing 3 is bipartisan and includes state Sen. Keith Perry (in a very competitive race in the Gainesville market), along with fellow Republican Sheriff Darryl Daniels of Clay County.
Democratic Sheriff Sadie Darnell of Alachua represents the other side of the partisan divide.
Polling this week via the Florida Chamber of Commerce is favorable to the amendment. Of those likely voters surveyed, 54 percent support the amendment, with 28 percent in opposition and the rest on the fence.
Voters in Charge got big checks from Disney and from the Seminole Tribe of Florida: $5 million apiece in September alone, suggesting the campaign has the resources for its closing push.
Florida Politics weekend correspondent Jacob Ogles contributed to this post.