Julie Jenkins gives Jackie Toledo a run for her money in now vulnerable HD 60

Jackie Toledo_Julie Jenkins
The Republican incumbent has held the seat since 2016.

In a district where the GOP should have an advantage, Democrat Julie Jenkins’ grassroots campaign is giving incumbent Republican Jackie Toledo a run for her money.

Toledo, an engineer, has held the Florida House District 60 seat since 2016. Jenkins, a former employee of the travel industry turned community stalwart, entered the race in January.

As an incumbent, Toledo has an advantage on Jenkins in name recognition and her legislative record.

Her top legislative accomplishments include getting a long-rejected texting while driving ban passed, a $1.4 billion appropriation for the Westshore interchange on Interstate 275, ongoing work to reform the Pharmacy Benefit Manager industry and overall work on transportation and infrastructure projects.

However, Jenkins holds an impressive list of community partnerships and work over the last two decades that, while they may not give her a legislative resume, help  with familiarity among voters in the community.

Jenkins has served or currently serves on more than 20 boards including the Sierra Club, NAACP, the League of Women Voters, trade associations and a host of others.

Although Toledo has a significant lead in campaign funding — raking in $541,140 since the start of her campaign— Jenkins reported significant individual contributions, giving credence to her grassroots campaign.

Toledo’s fundraising relied heavily on $1,000 PAC and business contributions. Of Toledo’s about 865 monetary contributors, about 250 were political committees, the remainder were primarily businesses, with a few dozen individual donors.

Jenkins’ campaign, although it raised $229,203 (about $300,000 less than Toledo), saw more than 4,400 contributors — four times that of Toledo. Jenkins received about a dozen $1,000 PAC donations, half of which came from local and state unions.

The fundraising details show how successful Jenkins’ grassroots efforts have been in the conservative-leaning district, and may foreshadow what polls are predicting: a potential upset for the incumbent.

Toledo is feeling the pressure — the incumbent’s campaign has poured $322,365 into the race, while Jenkins has spent about $200,000.

Both candidates have benefitted from party support, having nearly identical in-kind contributions worth $43,000 for Jenkins and Toledo, mostly from their respective party apparatus.

Toledo trails Jenkins in polls, according to the latest survey of HD 60 voters from St. Pete Polls released Monday.

Jenkins leads Toledo more than 50% to just under 41%, a nearly ten-point spread that spells bad news for the incumbent. Jenkins has grown her lead since the last poll in the district, taken in mid-September, that found Jenkins leading six points at 48% to 42%.

Republicans carry nearly 37% of all registered voters in the district while Democrats make up 33.5% and independents 30%. Furthering their advantage, 40% of all registered Republicans are considered active voters — those who have voted at least once in the past four years — while Democrats have just 36% who are active.

The key to winning the district: independent voters, which favor Jenkins 49% to 42%, and voter turnout.

Jenkins’ has strong crossover party appeal as well. While Toledo leads among Republican voters in the district, she does so with just 66% support. Another 26% of GOP voters plan to cast a ballot for the Democrat. Meanwhile, Toledo claims just 14% of the Democratic vote while Jenkins has 77% support from her own party.

The district’s change in tides is shown in the presidential race, too.

Jenkins’ lead is consistent with voter preferences at the top of the ticket, with former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump 11 points at 54% to 43%.

Toledo’s polling deficit comes after she won reelection in 2018 against Debra Bellanti by four points and after she was initially elected in 2016 over David Singer by 10 points. Trump carried the district that year by less than 1 point over Hillary Clinton.

HD 60 covers parts of Tampa including South Tampa and the Westshore area.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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