Delores Hogan Johnson faces party-backed challenger in Dana Trabulsy

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HD 84 marks a key battleground where Democrats are on defense.

Democrats have been on defense in House District 84 for years. Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson finds herself in the same place this cycle, with a strong challenge from philanthropy leader Dana Trabulsy.

A public school educator before holding office, Hogan Johnson first won this seat in 2018 after fending off Republican Mark Gotz, but by just 1,880 votes out of 65,724 cast. There’s nothing like a victory of less than 2 percentage points to get opponents salivating. This year, Trabulsy emerged from a party primary to take on the incumbent.

Both parties have made priorities of the Treasure Coast contest. The Florida Democratic Party devoted more than $43,600 into defending this seat.

In a district Donald Trump actually won in 2016 with 49% to Hillary Clinton’s 48%, Republicans are taking an election year opportunity to go on offense. The Republican Party of Florida devoted about $50,200 worth of resources to helping Trabulsy as well.

Party support, though, has been among the most contentious issues of the campaign. Trabulsy attacked Hogan Johnson earlier this year over accepting help from the state Democrats after the party was busted for illegally accepting a Paycheck Protection Program loan after Congress passed a federal COVID-19 bailout package. The party gave the money back but that hasn’t stopped the matter from coming up in battleground districts statewide.

For Hogan Johnson’s part, she pointed out Trabulsy’s husband, Paul, serves as an executive at Southern Eagle Distributing, a local company that also accepted a PPP loan, yet Paul and the company were able to find money to donate to the Republican candidate’s campaign.

The issue remains a key sensitivity point in the race as it winds down.

The Fort Pierce Republican spent $70,922 on the race through Oct. 29, ready with another $50,276 in cash on hand for the final days of the race. Hogan Johnson, meanwhile, has burned through $121,657 on the contest so far, and has $10,458 ready to make her closing argument.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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