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Narratives to shift in northeast Florida state House races

For most of the State House races in Northeast Florida, the feeling-out period has ended. The real work is about to begin.

In HD 11, 12, and 14, we will see narrative shifts, which will torpedo the plans of some pols.

HD 11: A few months back, Donnie Horner was lapping the field in fundraising. Sheri Treadwell is closing the gap, branding herself as the most conservative candidate in the race. Meanwhile, elements of the Duval Republican Party are doing opposition research on Horner.

There’s not much to hit him on, characterwise. So they are, instead, taking aim at his past Twitter feed.

Horner, a partisan Democrat a few years ago, is being scrutinized anew for declarations such as “Northeast Florida’s Democrats ‘broken'” reads the headline on front page of Jacksonville’s Florida Times Union. Sounds like they need me.”

That was from 2010.

Or the one from when he met Corrine Brown, and called her the “real deal.”

Or when he told Abel Harding and David Hunt, at The Florida Times-Union at the time, to let him know if they needed “anything from the DEC.”

Or when he indicated support for Amendment 2 in 2014 or the HRO expansion in 2012.

Or congratulating Mayor-elect Alvin Brown, saying, “Jacksonville is lucky to have such an ambitious person as its leader.”

Or when he said Martin O’Malley was going to be the president. Or when he said Alex Sink would beat Rick Scott.

Or, the real smoking gun …

“I am at Jury Duty. The Duval County Courthouse was worth every penny. No one will remember or care how much it cost.”

“Sometimes, when you know something and you’re sure of it, you accidentally let it slip to the press; then regret saying it later,” Horner Tweeted in 2013.

Prediction: There will be mailers sooner than later using these memes.

In a swing district, none of this would matter. In Janet Adkins‘ stomping grounds? Maybe a different story.

HD 12: The question someone asked me this week: Does anybody want to win this thing?

Richard Clark is making well north of six figures with JTA, and his fundraising has been static for months. At least one opponent is chomping at the bit to make the “can a lobbyist be in the House?” argument.

However, Clark’s $50,000 exceeds the light fundraising of the other three declared candidates, all of whom have red flags.

Don Redman and Clay Yarborough are both avatars of the Christian right. Word is that Clay promised not to run against Don; they go to church together. (After this ran, a party familiar with Yarborough’s thinking responded that the deal was that if Clay decided to run, Don would be the first to know, and he was.)

Though that part of the narrative diverges, one constant remains: Redman’s not raising much, but he’s staying in. And Clay has yet to amass the kind of money that scares people off.

Mark MacLean? We’ll see how that goes. Many see the elder-care lawyer, who is not from the district, as a nonfactor.

There is probably, in what would be at least a five-way race, room for a candidate who represented a deviation from the norm. That person would want to get in sooner than later, and would want to be able to clear five figures in February fundraising for the March report. Right now, it’s three members of the Jacksonville City Council class of 2007, and all of them have vulnerabilities and have, thus far, tentatively made their cases.

HD 14: The question local media has is simple.

Why did Kim Daniels get into the race?

Corrine Brown and that clique is behind Leslie Jean-Bart. Non-Corrine Dems will fall in behind Terry Fields.

Daniels, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have a base of support.

In the City Council election she lost, Daniels got a certain amount of support from PACs that wanted an anti-HRO “true conservative” on Council.

PACs of Republican money.

Meanwhile, actual Republican Chris Whitfield is in the race awaiting whoever comes out of the primary.

Daniels is in a unique position to get “earned media” that many other candidates would envy.

The trouble is, though, that Daniels doesn’t cultivate media relationships.

She doesn’t respond to interview requests.

That’s her prerogative, of course, but when she ran in 2011 and won her City Council race, she beat a damaged candidate.

In four years on Council, she never came close to getting meaningful legislation through.

Her biggest accomplishment? Buying courthouse furniture.

Daniels faces two opponents who aren’t dogged by ethical lapses. One a former eight-year incumbent in that HD 14 seat, and the other who is a smart lawyer with an affirmative social justice agenda, who will call Daniels out if she feels the need.

Is this race about the limelight for Daniels? Or does she have a real reason for running?

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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