Sen. Aaron Bean is termed out of office and three Jacksonville Republican state Representatives want to replace him. Now, the races to replace those Senate hopefuls are getting off the ground.
Here’s a rundown of three Jacksonville-area open House races:
HD 12 heat
The race to succeed Rep. Clay Yarborough in Jacksonville’s House District 12 is starting off hot, with both Republican hopefuls having big first months of fundraising.
In the end, however, newcomer Adam Brandon bested former Rep. Lake Ray, who seeks a return to Tallahassee with Yarborough chasing a Senate seat in 2022.
Brandon brought in $52,860 in hard money and floated $8,000 of his own money in loans, pushing his campaign over $60,000 in its first month. Campaign account contributions in state legislative races are capped at $1,000 per person or entity per election, indicating a broad base of support.
Among the donors of note: Jacksonville City Council members Kevin Carrico and Randy DeFoor; lobbyist Matt Brockelman; charter school magnate Gary Chartrand; Michael Hightower; and various accounts associated with the Rood family and Vestcor, its principal business.
“Our campaign has clear momentum. We are in a strong position to win and advocate for genuine conservative values in Tallahassee. I look forward to continuing to share my vision in the months ahead,” asserted Brandon.
Look for Brandon’s Genuine Conservatives political committee to start raising funds going forward. It did nothing in March.
Close behind, with $45,900 raised in March, was Ray, who drew his support from contractors, developers, and people in the real estate industry. “A Stronger Florida for Us” will be his political committee.
Ray “exceeded his goal for the month and is gratified by those that support his conservative vision for Florida,” per a spokesman.
HD 12 has been a Republican hold for many elections now. Yarborough is in his fifth Legislative Session. Redistricting could affect these lines, but based on the first month, Republicans are playing to win and expecting no major changes in the lines. And each campaign is cognizant of the field perhaps not being final yet.
HD 11’s slow start
The race to succeed Rep. Cord Byrd in HD 11 is somewhat more tepid, with only one candidate of the three bothering to fundraise.
Heath Brockwell, a trial lawyer from Jacksonville Beach, didn’t set the world afire with his $6,150 March haul. And roughly $13,000 on hand won’t scare anyone serious away.
But compared to the other two candidates in the race, Brockwell is the only one who is doing what needs to be done in a race for an open seat.
Hilliard’s Bo Wade Hodges raised nothing in March and has $105 on hand, which is good for second, as Jacksonville Beach podcaster Matthew Collins has reported no finance activity in his two months in the race.
HD 11, barring some novelty in a new map, will be a Republican hold. Byrd won by roughly a 2-1 margin in 2020.
The race to succeed Rep. Jason Fischer in House District 16? Officially, it hasn’t started as no one has filed. Unofficially, we know better. Give us a shout if you’re running or know someone who is.