Keith Perry draws first Democratic opponent in SD 8
Sen. Keith Perry. Image via Phil Sears.

Legislature 20 ps 042817

A Democrat has filed to run against Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry in 2018, according to Florida Division of Elections records.

Olysha Eva Magruder opened up her campaign account June 22 and is, so far, the only candidate running against Perry, who served three terms in the House and runs a roofing company in Alachua County.

Senate District 8 was one of the top targets for Democrats last year after redistricting all left-leaning Alachua County part of the same district, but despite rolling out former Florida Senator and local political heavyweight Rod Smith and throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars of party money at the race Perry won by 5 points on Election Day.

The first-term senator is off to a good start on the fundraising trail this cycle, with just over $100,000 on hand at the end of May, but that number could easily balloon if he finds himself in a competitive race down the stretch next year.

Whether Magruder is able to compete at that level remains to be seen. Her first campaign finance report is not due until mid-July.

Magruder has a Ph.D. in education from the University of Florida and has held teaching positions at Alachua County public schools as well as Santa Fe College and the University of Florida.

Though she hasn’t run for office before, Magruder made local news last month as the leader of a group who showed up at Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho’s Gainesville office to protest his vote for the AHCA, the House Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

During their visit, the protesters drew a chalk outline of a body in front of Yoho’s office and wrote “Save the ACA” and “No Yoho 2018.”

Magruder said the was meant to symbolize a person dying after losing their health care, but the move put staffers on edge after a flood of threats, angry calls and vandalism had come flooding into the office after Yoho’s vote.

In addition to Alachua, SD 8 includes Putnam County and the northern half of Marion County. About 46 percent of voters in the district are registered Democrats, while 34 percent are registered Republicans.

Only a few tenths of a point separated Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump in the district, the smallest margin of any of Florida’s 40 Senate districts, and Perry outperformed Trump by 5 points.

Staff Reports


  • Ronald J Ewalt

    June 30, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Please confirm and then correct if necessary the name of the candidate. My research shows her name if Eva OIysha, not Olysha Eva. Please update training of your editing staff.

    • Phil Ammann

      June 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you for your feedback. According to documents supplied to the Florida Division of Elections (Appointment of Campaign Treasurer, dated June 22), Ms. Magruder’s name is listed as Olysha Eva Magruder (first name, middle, last name). It is also the same in the Statement of Candidate (same date).

  • Christopher M. Kennard

    July 12, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I am over-joyed that someone fresh to the political arena is campaigning for public office in this area, rather than relying upon retreads who may have done well in the past, but it was always the secret streams of campaign cash and slush funds that generally propel “politicians” into public office, not genuine public support from the majority of voters. We need to select those who are not inordinately wealthy, or tied to the good ole’ boy political networks or come from a corporate management position who do not have a clue as to what the average citizen faces, day in and day out. Bernie Sanders proved the point that campaign donations must be small in size and come from many people in order to succeed against the entrenched, corrupt “establishment” wings of both the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party — both of whom are connected to the same sources of filthy dirty corrupt money that controls our country today. In fact, go look up how Trump, the Billy and Hillary team and the Bush Dynasty all share money funneled to them via the CIA. Kind of interesting . . . Trump and the CIA connected through the Resorts International Casino, owed by the CIA, Mossad and the Mafia who all used it to “clean” or launder dirty cash to use in domestic black bag jobs in the USA and within friendly countries to hide the sources of such monies.

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