Rebekah Jones to run as Democrat, not Independent, citing elections law strictures
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Rebekah Jones
New election rules require candidates to run under the political party with which they are registered.

Former Florida COVID-19 data analyst Rebekah Jones’ plan to run as an independent against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is no more, as state election rules from a Republican-backed elections bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in May requires her to run as a Democrat.

The bill, SB 90, focused primarily on voting practices, limiting among other things the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, ballot collections, vote solicitation near polling places and distribution of food and water to voters in line.

But the bill, which now faces legal challenges, also changed how candidates vie for office by barring candidates who were registered as Democrats or Republicans within a year of filing to run for office from doing so as independents. Accordingly, Jones, a registered Democrat who intended to run as an independent, must run as a Democrat and face other to-be-announced Democratic challengers for Gaetz’s Congressional District 1 seat in a Primary Election.

“I felt the most appropriate way to run a campaign in a district so deeply divided by red and blue was to set my own path forward and engage in meaningful conversation with those who may not otherwise hear me out if I was attached to a major party,” Jones wrote on her campaign website Thursday. “Ron DeSantis made it harder for you to vote and has obstructed my freedom to run independently with his continued attacks on our democracy.”

In a Friday update to her GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $307,000, Jones said she had “filed all the necessary paperwork” to run for office next year. Her name is not currently listed among candidates by the Florida Division of Elections, but the Federal Elections Commission lists her as a candidate.

District 1 has remained in Republican hands for decades. Gaetz, who is under investigation for the sex trafficking of a minor, illicit drug use, misuse of campaign funds and sharing inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, won reelection in November by 30 percentage points.

Running as an independent would have allowed Jones to circumvent the Democratic Primary next August and challenge Gaetz in the November General Election.

Jones moved to Maryland in January after Florida and Tallahassee police raided her home in response to a hack of the Department of Health’s emergency communications system. She denied involvement and later asked for criminal charges against her to be dropped. A Leon County judge denied her request.

Jones said she has since moved back to Florida and lives in District 1.

In May, Florida Inspector General Michael Bennett granted Jones whistleblower status. Jones had managed the Florida Department of Health’s online COVID-19 dashboard. She was fired for violating the agency’s policy about communicating with the media.

In the lead-up to her termination, Jones called into question the accuracy of the agency’s information and said management had pushed her to manipulate data to project a more positive outlook.

Florida Politics on Thursday reported that the agency has claimed impossible vaccination figures in some areas and withheld certain information from lawmakers on the basis of confidentiality.

Jones announced her candidacy on June 8, one day after Twitter permanently suspended her account for “platform manipulation and spam” after she repeatedly shared a Miami Herald story about the raid of her home.

Christina Pushaw, whose early criticism of Jones helped earn her a job as DeSantis’ press secretary, called Twitter’s action “long overdue” and alleged Jones had bought many of her Twitter followers.

After teasing a potential run, Jones waffled on the idea in subsequent posts, saying she’d only suggested running to highlight a double standard she saw in a May bill DeSantis signed to stop social media companies from censoring and de-platforming users.

She said she hoped other Republicans would “step up and Primary him” but had yet to see that happen.

“And so, if it takes me going home to Florida to run against Matt Gaetz, then I will do it,” she said in a video. “If it means getting one child sex trafficker out of office, you’re damn right I’ll do it.”

At the time Jones posted the video, two other candidates had filed to run for Gaetz’s seat: Republicans Jeremy Kelly, a Marine Corps veteran and active duty Navy serviceman; and Greg Merk, a retired military officer and pilot who challenged Gaetz in the Primary Election last year.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Zhombre

    August 13, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    Even if she loses, she’ll be stalking Gaetz claiming to be the actual winner.

  • Anna

    August 13, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    My neighbor’s aunt makes 62 every hour on the internet..iii she has been without work for eight months but the previous month her revenue was 19022 only working on the laptop 5 hours a day..

    check this……

  • Ed

    August 13, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    Rebekah Jones is a complete nut. She should be writing steamy romance novels about her real life experiences at FSU. She has proof to ya know.

    • Ed

      August 13, 2021 at 8:34 pm

      She has proof too ya know.

      Don’t know why she is running. I guess she ran out of all that “Go Fund Me” money that people donated to the “Fake Scientist”. Suckers.

  • Bobby Bowden

    August 13, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Rebekah. Go back to Maryland. Do you really want your past exposed?

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 14, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Was a police raid really necessary? Who makes these decisions? But as a candidate, I don’t think there’s much broad knowledge there. If she would commit herself to twenty stances, one would know where on the Marxist scale she inhabits.

    • Ed

      August 14, 2021 at 8:13 pm

      Really wasn’t a raid. They came to her house, called and knocked on her door. It gave her time to set up cameras and perform for her “Go Fund Me” audience as if the police showed up in SWAT gear and used a battering ram to knock down her door. I think it took over twenty minutes for her to let the police inside. I feel for the man married to the nut.

  • Tom Palmer

    August 15, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    The district’s voters don’t need to change one lightweight for another.

  • Paul

    August 16, 2021 at 10:12 am

    This stumbling block for Ms. Jones has nothing to do with the 2021 Bill passed by the Florida Legislature. She simply didn’t read existing statute, and tripped over election law that has been on the books since 2011. Here is what it says (Florida Statutes):

    99.021 Form of candidate oath.—
    2. (b) In addition, any person seeking to qualify for nomination as a candidate of any political party shall, at the time of subscribing to the oath or affirmation, state in writing:
    1. The party of which the person is a member.
    2. That the person has not been a registered member of any other political party for 365 days before the beginning of qualifying preceding the general election for which the person seeks to qualify.

Comments are closed.


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