One of the enduring guessing games in Jacksonville politics is when U.S. Rep. John Rutherford will finally step down.
If fundraising is any guide, it won’t be for at least three more years, as the Duval County Republican continues to raise like an active candidate … albeit one in a safe seat.
In Q3 of 2019, Rutherford reported just over $70,000 raised, giving him $228,900 raised for the election cycle, and $443,376 on hand.
The vast majority of the funds raised in the quarter came from corporate political action committees, or PACs.
Rutherford, a former three-term Jacksonville Sheriff, faced his toughest challenge in a battle royale style 2016 GOP primary to replace outgoing Rep. Ander Crenshaw.
Since then, he has been protected by a combination of strong name identification, a deep red district, and underwhelming challengers.
Rutherford’s Jacksonville-centric 4th Congressional District has a strong Republican plurality.
GOP voters comprise 286,013 of the district’s 577,173 registered voters, compared to 155,073 Democrats, with independents and third party registrants making up the balance.
At least in a theoretical sense, Rutherford could face a primary challenge.
Perennial candidate Gary Koniz, who has run as Republican and independent in the past, seeks to fly the banner of the Grand Old Party in 2020.
Though relatively unknown among normal people, media types are familiar with Koniz’s blast emails, which advance fringe theories, complete with idiosyncratic capitalization.
For example, an Oct. 7 missive:
“We are being overrun and overtaken at this time by a Civil War Coalition of Multi-Foreign Interests assuming Adverse Possession under the Inclusion Ideology of the 15th Amendment as applied under the Non-Discriminating Equal Citizenship Clause established by the Civil Rights Act. The Deep State Conspiracy among the Third World Liberal Democrats being advocated is to Destroy and Replace the White Europeans altogether with Alien Peoples. The problem with surrendering to that concept being, that it will not be our country, laws, and military to rule over any longer; and to be given over into the hands and agendas of Foreign Peoples.”
Koniz has yet to ramp up his fundraising machine, if FEC filings are any indication.
If Rutherford should survive Koniz’s primary challenge, Democrat Monica DePaul awaits in the general election, per filings with the state of Florida.
DePaul, a substitute teacher by trade, had floated a run in the 2018 Democratic primary before withdrawing and preemptively announcing a 2020 run.
She garnered earned media at the time, with one Jacksonville outlet headlining her as a “transgender vampire fiction author.”
Like Koniz, DePaul has thus far avoided fundraising.