Retired Okaloosa County Judge Patt Maney emerged Tuesday with the Republican nomination in the House District 4 primary.
With 46 of 47 precincts reporting, Maney has won out in a congested four-way primary to succeed Rep. Mel Ponder, who skipped on the chance at a third term to run for Okaloosa County Commissioner.
Maney received 38% of the vote, besting Jeff Hinkle has by 4 points. Jonathan Tallman followed with 17% and Sandra Atkinson placed last in the four-way race with about 10% support.
“I’m very grateful for the win and for the confidence of the public,” Maney said after securing victory. “Of course, it’s only the first step, but I’m very hopeful we’ll do well. I’m going to take Northwest Florida values and Northwest Florida courtesy to Tallahassee.”
While Maney was the favorite leading into Election Day and a St. Pete Polls survey Thursday showed him ahead 10 points, Tuesday marked the retired judge’s largest hurdle in his bid for a seat in the House of Representatives. Registered Republicans in Okaloosa County outnumber Democrats 81,000 to 28,000 in the district, which encompasses the county’s coastal half.
Jeff Hinkle, Chairman of the Republican Party of Okaloosa County, outspent Maney by nearly $170,000 over the course of the race. This month alone, Hinkle staked $100,000 from his pocketbook on the race, keeping the final stretch competitive.
Those dollars appeared to help close the gap over the last few weeks, but Maney maintained his lead. He also defeated Atkinson, an Okaloosa County’s Republican State Committeewoman, and Tallman, a Niceville financial adviser, Tuesday.
As of Friday, Republican candidates had spent a combined $715,000 on the race, making it the most expensive primary in the Panhandle.
Maney was once the longest serving county or circuit judge in Florida’s 1st Judicial Circuit. During the primary campaign, lawyers were his largest financial backers.
Maney is a veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in the Army Reserve and led a 37-year military career. While on a mission in Afghanistan in 2005, he suffered severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, after an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle.
After nearly two years of recovery, Maney returned to the bench in Okaloosa County. There, he established a mental health court and veterans treatment court before retiring in 2018. That year, he was inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame.
The retired judge has also worked with the Legislature in the past, helping lawmakers create a statewide structure for veterans treatment courts.
He went on to work with the Florida Legislature to pass an act creating a statewide structure for veterans treatment courts.
In November, Maney will face Democrat John Plante, a career IT professional, and Lawrence Lance, a write-in candidate from Pensacola.
The district has produced quite the pedigree, including U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom.
Some of the candidates touted ties to President Donald Trump and Gaetz. But Gaetz hasn’t made an endorsement in the race, and the Friends of Matt Gaetz political action committee gave a courtesy $500 to all four candidates.
“Never Trumper” accusations flew freely with Hinkle dishing it out to Maney and Tallman. But Atkinson pointed to Hinkle’s endorsement by Young Americans for Liberty — a libertarian group with ties to former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and his son U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash and Judge Andrew Napolitano — to levy her own Never Trump accusations at Hinkle.
Tallman was the runner-up to Ponder during the 2016 race to succeed Gaetz in HD 4. Among the five candidates in that year’s HD 4 Republican primary, Ponder won 29% of the vote to Tallman’s 25%. But that near-success didn’t translate to a victory Tuesday.
Like Maney, Atkinson also is an Army veteran. Despite having been elected twice to represent Okaloosa County in the Republican Party of Florida, Atkinson never gained a foothold in the HD 4 primary and fell behind the pack in fundraising and polling.
In the Thursday St. Pete Polls survey that showed Maney 10 points ahead of Hinkle, he led with 35% to Hinkle’s 25%, Tallman’s 12% and Atkinson’s 10%.
With all but one precinct reporting, Maney leads with 38% to Hinkle’s 34%.