The general election race to replace outgoing state Rep. Jay Fant in Jacksonville’s House District 15 is beginning to heat up, with a pattern established last week.
Democrat Tracye Polson is determined to push back against what she sees as narrative distortions and distractions from the campaign of Republican opponent Wyman Duggan.
One such example: challenging Duggan to a debate, in the wake of a pyrotechnic attack ad that linked Polson to Resistance protesters, with stock footage of a flag burner catching the Democrat’s ire.
The ad said Polson is “with them, not with us.”
In that context, Florida Politics has learned of the second line of attack being mulled by the Duggan campaign, one focusing on Polson being a recent arrival to House District 15, a group of deep-rooted communities ranging from Riverside, Avondale, and Ortega to the more bucolic stretches of Jacksonville’s Westside.
The contrast would be implicit, between the deeply rooted Duggan and Polson, a candidate who moved to the district much more recently, according to voter registration records.
Polson registered in HD 15 in November 2016, records show. Before that, she was a registered voter in St. Johns County.
We asked Polson about this potential issue, and she framed it as yet another distraction put forth by the Republican campaign to distract from his career as a lobbyist.
“My opponent, career lobbyist Wyman Duggan is running a negative campaign — full of distortions, and without substance or proper attention to the issues that matter most to the voters I’ve been speaking with since Veterans Day of 2017,” Polson asserted.
“I have lived in the Jacksonville area for over eight years and I was thrilled to buy my home in District 15 in 2014. After first living in Atlantic Beach and then Ponte Vedra Beach, I chose my home in Avondale with care and love living here,” Polson added.
We asked Polson straight up: Should voters care about this issue, which seems likely to be part of a future mailpiece?
“I don’t tell voters what they should care about. I’ve been listening to them tell me what keeps them up at night as I started knocking on the doors of Republicans, Democrats, and NPA voters,” Polson asserted.
“More than one teacher told me that they care about public education and how they have to work more than one job and spend their own money on classroom materials and food for their students. They care about health care — one woman told me she had been diagnosed with cancer, and then after losing her health insurance, she told herself it was probably nothing. They care about gun violence in schools, opioid overdoses, and taking care of our veterans,” Polson said.
“More than one man told me they care about good jobs that pay a living wage and the flooding that has occurred in their streets,” Polson related.
“I promise to be their State Representative who will fully represent them and their families and keep in communication with them about what is happening in Tallahassee. I think they have a right to know that my opponent is a career lobbyist who has worked against the people of District 15, not for them,” Polson asserted.
“I don’t claim to be an expert on all issues. But I’ve had lengthy conversations with Jacksonville community leaders, attending meetings, visiting churches, reading and studying and most of all listening to people all across District 15. My team and I have knocked on more than 15,000 doors to learn what matters most to moms, dads, active military and veterans, teachers, factory workers, and retired voters,” Polson said.
“Several of my key endorsers have stated clearly that my diligence in studying the issues — and my openness to learn still more, including perspectives from all parties, was critical to earning their support,” Polson added.
Indeed, Polson has scored key endorsements, including from former mayoral candidate Audrey Moran (a Republican), as well as from the nonpartisan Fraternal Order of Police and Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters locals.
All told, he has roughly $82,000 on hand, a number that is still behind the Polson campaign, which had as of its most recent campaign account and committee filings roughly $123,036 on hand after having raised and self-financed about $125,000 during the same period.
Polson is spending big on television, and her ability to finance her own campaign has gotten her into the game. The next four weeks will show if her campaign can go toe to toe with a Republican machine with deep tentacles into GOP power structures in Jacksonville and Tallahassee both.