The 2018 General Election in House District 15 on Jacksonville’s Westside has been expensive and contested right up to the end, with more than a million dollars spent by all candidates.
In 2020, the contest between Republican incumbent Rep. Wyman Duggan and Democratic challenger Tammyette Thomas looks to be somewhat less dramatic.
Though Democrats hold a slight registration advantage in the district, Duggan and Republicans have the resource edge for the last ten days of the race.
Whereas 2018’s Democratic candidate in the race (Dr. Tracye Polson) was capable of both self-financing and tapping into donor networks, Thomas has had more difficulty getting traction.
Thomas, as of October 16, reported having raised just over $26,000, with roughly $6,000 on hand. That is the most recent filing from the Thomas campaign to the state Division of Elections.
In the two weeks headed into October 16, scant evidence existed of a donor surge: the Democrat raised just over $8,600 via 1,249 mostly small contributions from across the country.
Duggan, who has been up on television for weeks, has enjoyed a resource edge, and the stretch run is no exception to that.
The candidate had as of October 16 just over $25,000 remaining of the nearly $344,000 in hard money raised, but demonstrated a lot of stretch run fundraising momentum. Duggan raised just over $64,000 in the two weeks headed into Oct. 16, with the Republican Party of Florida doling out $25,000 of that sum.
Duggan’s political committee, the ponderously-titled Citizens for Building Florida’s Future, holds still more resources in reserve for the Republican’s reelection bid.
That committee had $72,000 available to deploy as of Oct. 16, with $26,500 of that sum raised in the week prior to that date.
All told, as of Oct. 16, Duggan had roughly a 16 to 1 cash on hand edge over his Democratic challenger.
Duggan, a lawyer at Rogers Towers, is connected and well-liked in Jacksonville’s City Hall. Even Democratic City Council members Reggie Gaffney and Ju’Coby Pittman endorsed him.
Caveats abound with both. Gaffney has been known to back Republicans, including Mayor Lenny Curry. And Pittman, though popularly elected to office last year, was originally appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Council by Gov. Rick Scott.
But those endorsements won’t decide this one. What will more likely swing this race is a concerted effort by the Republican Party of Florida that Democrats opted not to match, despite holding the registration edge in the district.
If there is one advantage for Thomas, it’s outside money.
The Democrat Super PAC Forward Majority has spent roughly $300,000 on television, with national Democrats looking to spotlight Duggan’s advocacy in 2009 for the Jacksonville Mayor to appoint the Duval County School Board.
Republicans are not taking this one for granted given the outside investment.