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Endorsements pile up in Northeast Florida State House races

In Northeast Florida state House races, endorsements from builders, contractors, police and fire unions, the NRA, and social conservative groups have been rolled out in recent days. Below are just a few.

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On Tuesday, the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida First Coast Chapter rolled out endorsements in competitive state House races.

The favored candidates include House District 11 Republican Donnie Horner, HD 12 Republican Terrance Freeman, HD 16 Republican Jason Fischer, and HD 19 Republican Katherine Van Zant.

Karin Tucker, Florida First Coast Chapter president, said that “these delegates will bring a wealth of energy and experience to Tallahassee.”

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Freeman also scored another key endorsement Tuesday from Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

Is there a connection between the Williams campaign of 2015 and the Freeman campaign of 2016? Yes, there is.

Alexander Pantinakis was an operative for Williams in 2015.

While getting more notoriety for his work on Angela Corey‘s re-election campaign, which culminated in his filing the paperwork for a write-in candidate to close the primary, Pantinakis has also done work for the Freeman campaign.

“Terrance is a strong leader and will be a true partner for law enforcement in Tallahassee,” Sheriff Williams said. “Terrance brings the perspective and fresh approach we need in the state Legislature.”

Freeman, who works as an assistant to Jacksonville City Councilman Aaron Bowman, also touts endorsements elsewhere in Jacksonville’s public safety industry.

Freeman has been endorsed by the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, Fraternal Order of Police — Jacksonville Lodge, and the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters.

A press release from Freeman’s camp delineates those endorsements, with helpful quotes from principals.

“Terrance Freeman has the understanding of his community that is needed in Tallahassee,” said FOP Lodge 5-30 President Steve Zona. “I look forward to working with him in the future and we are proud to lend our support to his campaign for House District 12.”

“We need a leader like Terrance Freeman who we can trust in the state Legislature, who understands our city and the challenges first responders face,” Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters President Randy Wyse said.

Freeman’s endorsements will, hopefully for his sake, outweigh the cash crunch his campaign faces.

The leading fundraiser in HD 12, Clay Yarborough, has $80,000 on hand; Freeman, $24,000.

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Endorsements and fundraising often don’t match. Another good example is in the HD 11 race, where the two leading fundraisers, Sheri Treadwell and Donnie Horner, were passed up for endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

Getting the nod instead was Cord Byrd, an attorney with a keenly demonstrated interest in Second Amendment rights.

“No other candidate in this race has the background of active, dedicated service that you have demonstrated to advancing the cause of Freedom, Second Amendment rights and protection of constitutional rights,” wrote Marion Hammer.

Byrd needs that endorsement.

Treadwell has $107,000 on hand; Byrd, just $32,000.

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Also in HD 11, Sheri Treadwell, who is billing herself as an “faithful conservative,” got an endorsement from one of Florida’s leading social conservatives, John Stemberger, earlier this month.

The Florida Family Action president said Treadwell would “soon prove to be a rising champion for our conservative values in Tallahassee. She will fight for life, family, and our First and Second Amendment constitutional rights. Sheri has a unique set of experiences, qualifications and convictions which will make her very effective in the Legislature. Jacksonville conservatives of all types should feel confident in supporting Sheri for the Florida House.”

Of course, the district encompasses Nassau County as well, where the residents don’t feel like part of Jacksonville in any way. And the Jacksonville beaches, which likewise prize their autonomy.

But an endorsement is an endorsement. And it’s easy to imagine a well-timed mailer from FFA benefiting Treadwell and countering the NRA endorsement of Byrd.

Treadwell was also endorsed Tuesday by Sen. Travis Hutson.

“Sheri Treadwell will be a very effective legislator for Northeast Florida,” said Hutson. “District 11 voters can be confident that she knows the issues inside and out, and her conservative convictions will make her a strong leader in Tallahassee. I am very happy to support her and look forward to working with her.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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