Republican state Senator Aaron Bean is among the leaders in his Senate caucus, after a long and largely successful political career.
Such a long career, in fact, that his son may join the Northeast Florida mainstay as an elected officeholder in a little more than a week, taking a job that his father held some decades ago.
Bradley Bean launched his second run for the Fernandina Beach City Commission this year. In 2018, he also ran for a seat, but “came up 112 votes short,” as his father the Senator put it.
Bean, an engineer with Rayonier whose first name comes from uncle Rob Bradley, the outgoing budget chief in the Senate, has some advantages this year over his opponent, Marian Phillips.
He’s raised more than three times what she did, and carried a cash on hand advantage into early voting. But he takes nothing for granted.
The biggest lesson from his narrow loss, Bean said in a phone call Monday, was in the strength of the finish. This is especially true in a hyperlocal non-partisan race.
“There’s no polling,” Bean said. “I’m always going to assume I’m two votes down.”
Bean trumpets having more local donors than any other candidate for the commission as a sign of grassroots support, and he is spending the money locally, including a prominent banner ad buy in the local Fernandina Beach News-Leader.
That helps to get the message out.
Bean said the point of all this was “good people getting involved,” noting that what spurred him into politics two years ago was a developer seeking a rezoning of a park he grew up playing in.
While in a TV movie that scenario might end with the rezoning stop, reality was a 3-2 vote in favor of the reclassification.
“It’s tough to regain what we’ve lost,” Bean notes.
But the fight can never stop because it’s perpetual, he explains.
Bradley Bean recalls his father on the commission, and one fight in particular: a battle to stop a Walmart Supercenter from being built in Fernandina.
The compromise: the bigger store went to Yulee while a normal location came to Fernandina.
Senator Bean, for his part, said his son developed an early interest in the business of politics, taking his grandmother to commission meetings years ago.
While Aaron Bean admits that his famous name can be a “blessing and a curse,” given the unique polarities of local politics, he lauds son Bradley for being his “own man” and running his own race.
But running his own race doesn’t mean that his parents aren’t backing him to the hilt.
Both parents have released testimonial videos for their son’s bid. These, along with a video from the candidate himself explaining the rationale for his campaign, are all online and visible in the local market.