Contrast drives HD 15 race between Wyman Duggan, Tracye Polson

Wyman Duggan

It’s the most competitive 2018 race in Northeast Florida — the battle to replace outgoing Republican state Rep. Jay Fant in Westside Jacksonville’s plurality-Democrat House District 15.

The air war continued this week: Republican Wyman Duggan dropped a contrast ad on Democrat Tracye Polson, comparing her alleged radicalism with his “common-sense” approach to politics.

The 30-second ad from Duggan, a political protégé of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry who already has over $120,000 committed to television between his campaign and the Republican Party of Florida, advanced the closing argument.

The first half of the spot showed Resistance protesters (in footage likely not from the Westside Jacksonville district), with accusations that Polson supported “socialized” health care and letting current prisoners vote.

The second half of the spot featured a testimonial from Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, with Duggan himself not speaking: the latter a recurring theme in Duggan ads, in which the candidate (a Rogers Towers lawyer and a practiced public speaker) has yet to say a word.

The tag line (“Common sense. Not politics.”) was likewise an interesting choice, especially in context of Polson’s own campaign deeming Duggan a career lobbyist steeped in politics, including lobbying for Nova Scotia’s Emera when moves were being made to sell Jacksonville public utility JEA to a private operator.

Those familiar with the thinking of the Duggan campaign claim that the career lobbyist trope isn’t selling with voters. And those outside Duggan’s orbit, even some Republicans, tell tales of donor class frustration with the campaign.

Time will tell which of those takes is salient and which is spin.

Polson, meanwhile, is taking her case to voters. Even as she’s frustrated by an apparent disinterest on Duggan’s part to debate her.

The powerful Riverside Avondale Preservation group couldn’t get the campaigns to agree on a date for a debate, and Polson has been stymied in attempts to get Duggan to engage at forums.

The latest example: a Monday evening forum with the regional chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Duggan, along with other GOP candidates, took a pass on the purportedly bipartisan event.

“At a time when public safety and health care are two of the most important issues in Florida, who you choose to meet with says a lot about where your priorities are as a candidate,” Polson said.

“I’m committed to working with my community to bring back dollars for crucial mental health services that will serve our students and veterans in need. Jacksonville voters are counting on their leaders to not only represent them but to be present in the community. Last night’s forum said it all: Democrats show up for Jacksonville,” Polson asserted.

Meanwhile, the Florida Times-Union editorial page, typically deeper in the pocket of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry than his car keys, bucked the machine and backed Polson over the connected Duggan.

While the editorialists avoided mention of Duggan’s lobbying or Polson’s alleged associations with out-of-state radicals determined to subvert Florida values, it was clear that Polson impressed them in part because Duggan didn’t really bother to make the sale.

“The Editorial Board expected more from his answers to our questionnaire — one or two sentence answers. In contrast, opponent Tracye Polson put more thought and effort into her answers,” the article asserts.

“In the final analysis, this choice is between Duggan’s resume and Polson’s more thoughtful approach,” and the choice was Polson.

The two candidates, as of Oct. 5, were roughly even in cash-on-hand. Duggan’s $85,000 (especially with RPOF buy-in) is near Polson’s $100,000 available.

Duggan’s latest ad, meanwhile, is below.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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