Round Two goes to Elizabeth Fetterhoff.
The DeLand Republican defeated Democrat Patrick Henry, and this time by a sizable enough margin to avoid a recount. With 100% of precincts counted, she led the former Representative with 53.06% of the vote, or 44,216 votes to Henry’s 39,112.
“Good morning Volusia County and District 26, thank you to everyone who got out and voted and thank you to everyone who trusted me with there vote!,” she wrote on Facebook. “Looking forward to a call from my opponent this morning!”
Henry held the seat for two years after winning in in 2016, but lost to Fetterhoff in 2018 by 61 votes. He suggested before the election if the seat stays red this year, it could be redrawn so that no Democrat can win in 2022. With redistricting on the agenda in 2021, the next legislative class will decide if HD 26 remains a swing district or gets reshaped to benefit one party or the other.
Fetterhoff, for her part, felt content this year comparing her two years in the Florida House to Henry’s two years.
A St. Pete Polls survey released in October showed Henry with a 48% to 46% lead on Fetterhoff, but Republicans throughout Florida outperformed the polls.
The poll came out before Florida Republicans started hammering Democrats, including Henry, for wanting to “defund the police.” In this case, Fetterhoff pointed to a pledge against mass incarceration and some tight-budget year votes on the Daytona Beach City Commission.
On that front, Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who served as Daytona Beach Police Chief during Henry’s city days, came to the Democrat’s defense and said Henry did, indeed, support police. But then, Chitwood also endorsed Fetterhoff and held to that.
Fetterhoff tried to keep the conversation on work she has done for the region, whether fighting for Bethune-Cookman University funding and accreditation or ensuring health coverage for first responders.
Amid a polarizing presidential race, the contest became especially touch-and-go for the GOP. Democrats outnumber Republicans 45,085 to 37,304 in registrations within the district.
But through Oct. 29, Fetterhoff dropped $265,100 on her reelection campaign. Henry spent $160,883 through the same date, much of it in a Democratic primary. But he also had $58,094 in cash to burn in the last few days of the race, while Fetterhoff held just $39,977.