Fake news and flotillas: Sleepy campaign season heats up in Northeast Florida
'Boaters for Trump" event near Jacksonville. Image via Action News Jax.

Boaters for Trump - Action News Jax
Democrats decried a pro-Trump campaign stunt.

An armada of Northeast Florida boaters took to the waters this past weekend to show support for the President and the boats were barely back at the docks before the event became a partisan talking point.

Esther Byrd, the wife of state Rep. Cord Byrd, organized the event.

Pretty darn proud of my wife @EstherByrd19 today! When she decides we should have a Trump Boat Rally, THIS is what happens,” the state Representative tweeted, including pictures of dozens of boats speeding through water.

The event was, by any measure, a success, in that President Donald Trump tweeted a thank you.


Despite presidential plaudits, the narrative soured with old adversaries from the media and the opposition party raining on the boat parade.

The Republican Party of Duval County engaged on social media over the weekend, decrying a piece from WJXT-TV as “fake news.”

The seeming omission: pictures that did not show the full breadth of the flotilla.

WJXT got off the naughty list by including video provided by event organizers, but not before the local party tried to blow up the issue, tagging Florida GOP chairman Joe Gruters and others.

However, local Democrats running for state House seats said the event had a different connotation.

Angie Nixon, who is challenging conservative Democratic incumbent Kim Daniels in House District 14, was blunt on Twitter.

“It’s painfully insulting to working class ppl that still haven’t received their unemployment checks, meanwhile a republican Florida State Rep is riding the waves with others in boats and mini yachts in support of 45. I wonder how many groceries that gas $ cld pay for.”

Also fired up was Ben Marcus, the likely Democratic nominee in November against Republican Rep. Jason Fischer in House District 16.

#RememberinNovember, folks. @FLGOPMajority legislators are floating down the river in yachts refusing to go back to Tally to fix unemployment while Floridians go homeless,” Marcus tweeted this weekend. “#thisisntagame #thisiswhatacowardlookslike.”

Meanwhile, Joshua Hicks, running against Byrd in HD 11, retweeted activist Travis Akers.

“Rep. Byrd – Organizing a group of wealthy people to flex their privilege while your constituents have lost their jobs, their healthcare, and are still waiting on stimulus checks and unemployment from a broken website is not something most normal people would be “proud” of,” the message read.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. 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 [email protected]


  • Patrick

    May 18, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Y do people begrudge someone who has educated themselves to attain a prominent position in life so he/she can purchase a water vessel to be with family on a beautiful Sunday afternoon? Go Trump, 8 more years!!!

    • Frances

      May 18, 2020 at 10:11 am

      They can have their money and boats but when almost a million people have died from the COVID this was a shit way to act. The money on fuel alone could have provided PPE for many doctors and nurses.. So think about how selfish they are.

      • Patrick McBride

        May 18, 2020 at 12:21 pm

        Frances, have you spent any $$Money on yourself or family to enjoy life?So think about how selfish you are. This is the $$ they earned in life to save/spend/donate to charity. How do you know how much they donated to charities?

    • John

      May 18, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      Because so many consevatives claim to be anti-elite. So what does this say?


    May 18, 2020 at 10:03 am


    • Frankie M.

      May 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

      Which promises were those? The ones that have made us a joke without a punchline to the rest of the world?? Yes well done!

      • Patrick

        May 18, 2020 at 12:28 pm

        Frankie, the Presidents position is to protect the country from invasion of foreigners and foreign nations. Is anyone invading your home or private space? Do you fear for your life from foreign invaders? If not, than Your President has done his job.

        OK, Merica 1st, best economy, growth rate, I know Trump Derangement Syndrome, everything is Trump’s fault. Look at the rest of the world & their response to COVID-19, any better.

        Also, big mouth kowtowing Putin puppet, hollywood actor wanna B, I will have more leverage when I am reelected. Your boy is now speaker, public relations pimp for sleepy Joe.

        • Frankie M.

          May 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm

          Enemies…plural…both foreign & domestic. Who’s gonna protect us from that egomaniac? I took an oath once upon a time too.

        • Bartholomew

          May 18, 2020 at 9:06 pm

          Actually its the job of our fine military which Cadet Bone Spurs could never qualify or have the back bone to become part of. I know many veterans that had differnt hadicaps when they joined but they worked through them and served very honorably, more than you can say for gutless 45. Trump is certainly not a leader and would hide out in a gold bunker if we ever had a war. He admires the Generals uniform but he will never earn one.

  • Frankie M.

    May 18, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Don’t these people have jobs they shouldn’t be going to? Wait they’re politicians lmao…Murica! I don’t think that was a Trump thing. On Sundays lots of boats go down to redneck riviera and get drunk. They call it “church” for some reason. Just like in Ozarks!

    • Patrick

      May 18, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      Frankie, most christians if they can help it, are off on Sunday to worship. Worship is personal, could be watching sun rise, (get it), drinkin brew wit family on the redneck riviera.

      • Frankie M.

        May 18, 2020 at 6:09 pm

        Trump claims to be a Christian but I view him as more of a hypocrite. He’s practically bragging about leading the world in covid 19 deaths. We’re #1! Obamagate…everyone knows what he did but Trump apparently. All of his sycophants like to project onto Obama for some reason. So much for the party of personal accountability. #thxobama

        • Pedro

          May 18, 2020 at 9:09 pm

          Trump is only a christian if it will grease his sleazy palms.

  • JC

    May 18, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Nothing new to see. People in FL mostly live in their own fantasy worlds/alternate reality.

    To be fair, these guys didn’t do anything wrong. But for the elected officials who were part of the boat crew it was a “bad taste” moment.

  • Reb

    May 19, 2020 at 1:54 am

    Frankie M. is black, that is why he does not like Trump boaters, remember blacks cannot swim, Frankie M. is afraid of the water, so he is jealous of boaters lolololol

Comments are closed.


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