Jacob Winge leaves Collier Co. Commission race
Jacob Winge

Republican endorsed former opponent William Douglass.

Republican Jacob Winge has dropped out of a race for Collier County Commission in District 1.

A candidate for a rare open seat on the board and the youngest in the field by far, Winge said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affected his decision.

“Recognizing where our district has been in our past, I know the challenges,” Winge wrote in an email.

“I know the opportunities we have for the road ahead. But to stay in this race without a clear path to victory does no good for my community, my supporters, nor my family. Our campaign, unfortunately, was not immune to the challenges of overcoming this pandemic.”

Namely, restrictions on gatherings and public health concerns destroyed traditional campaigning procedures.

“With numerous campaigning events having to be cancelled throughout late spring and dozens of volunteers economically devastated by the shutdown and fallout, the reality is I know in my heart I cannot run the successful grassroots campaign I set out to accomplish before this crisis and these conditions.”

The 28-year-old hosted his first fundraiser in September and quickly showed an ability to gather resources. He also scored the endorsement of outgoing County Commissioner Donna Fiala, who praised a “strong passion for our community” that more than made up for his youth.

Winge was among five Republicans vying for the post. Mark Batchelor, Cliff Donenfeld, William Douglass and Rick LoCastro remain in the race. Democrat John Jenkins has also filed for the seat.

Winge threw his endorsement to Douglass, a retired firefighter.

“I know he will fight for all of us,” Winge wrote. “With a strong background of service here in District 1, from his neighborhood to every corner of our community Will has my confidence and trust in serving us well.”

The race remains the only County Commission seat in Collier without an incumbent running.

Winge, president of the East Naples Civic Association, said he will remain active in the community.

“After dedicating most of my teen and adult life to volunteering, leading community organizations, and serving on various advisory boards I am still very much committed to service for our community and will also continue to stand up and fight for those without a voice,” he said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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