Political consultants will have plenty of races to work this cycle in Northeast Florida, as a third state House member signaled plans to run for the state Senate.
Rep. Cord Byrd, in his third term representing House District 11 in Nassau and beachside Duval counties, told media Friday he will run for the Senate District 4 seat opening in 2022.
“I am leading the fight in the Florida House on the issues important to you, and I stand ready to carry on that fight in the Senate. Now more than ever, we need conservative champions of liberty and the constitution leading that fight in Tallahassee,” Byrd said.
Byrd joins two colleagues from Duval County in the race to replace termed-out Sen. Aaron Bean, who has yet to endorse.
Rep. Jason Fischer, the incumbent from HD 16 in Jacksonville’s Mandarin area, and Rep. Clay Yarborough, who represents HD 12 in the Arlington area, are also running.
The trio was first elected in 2016, and the primaries they faced to get into those seats were far tougher than any General Election battle they faced. Expect this to be a contest as bare-knuckled as any in Duval County since those battles five years ago.
Byrd’s play likely will be to the activist wing of the GOP, with both his wife and him more openly comfortable with the rhetoric of the hard right than either Fischer or Yarborough.
The legislator spent a large part of 2020 and the beginning of this year explaining away rhetorical nods to that part of the base.
Around the time a pro-Donald Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Mrs. Byrd described them as peacefully protesting. She also referred to the “coming civil wars” in the Republican Party.
“In the coming civil wars (We the People vs the Radical Left and We the People cleaning up the Republican Party), team rosters are being filled. Every elected official in DC will pick one. There are only 2 teams… With Us [or] Against Us,” she mused. “We the People will NOT forget!”
Byrd urged a television reporter to consider those statements as the sort of “hyperbole” that “people use all the time.” But in the context of what will be a decisive primary race in a safe-path Republican seat, it will be interesting to see if the “coming civil wars” include SD 4 as a battleground.
With three legislators looking for a new job, openings and a lot of action will be found in their previous House seats. Unless the new maps are different, they should be easy GOP holds for whoever emerges from those no-doubt nasty primaries and less eventful general elections.