Lenny Curry, Mike Williams offer early endorsement of Jessica Baker in HD 12

BAKER ART 2
'Jessica Baker is a conservative leader who will serve us with honor and integrity.'

Jessica Baker landed two major endorsements of her campaign in the competitive Republican primary in House District 12.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams both say they are supporting Baker, an Assistant State Attorney in the 7th Circuit who filed Friday for the legislative seat.

“I’m proud to endorse Jessica Baker for State Representative because she is a principled conservative,” Curry said. “On our charter revision commission she led the charge to keep term limits for politicians. As a prosecutor she upholds her oath to protect our communities from those who would do us harm and defends the Constitution. Jessica will be a a State Representative we can trust.”

“Jessica Baker is a conservative leader who will serve us with honor and integrity. As a prosecutor she stands for the rule of law, protects our community and supports law enforcement every day,” Williams added. “I’m proud to endorse her as our next state Representative and look forward to working with her.”

“As a prosecutor and mother to two young children, I am honored to have the support of commonsense conservatives like Mayor Curry and Sheriff Williams,” Baker said. “Mayor Curry and Sheriff Williams have made public safety their number one priority, adding more than 100 police officers and new technologies to fight crime. As your next state Representative, I will always protect the rule of law and make public safety my top priority.”

The big endorsements send a message that Baker is playing to win.

On Friday, she launched her campaign with what seemed to be a thinly veiled potshot at her opponent, former Rep. Lake Ray, who represented the district from 2008 to 2016.

“Each day it seems another career politician finds a new way to rant about how divided we are as a nation, determined to drive a wedge between all of us and common sense solutions,” she said.

Baker has a deep resume. She previously worked at Ballard Partners, and later served a stint last decade on the intergovernmental affairs team for Mayor Lenny Curry.

Prior to joining Ballard, the Florida State University law grad served as a lobbyist at Sachs Sax Caplan in Tallahassee, specializing in education and transportation issues.

Baker has experience in The Process also. She served as a legal intern in the Office of the Florida Senate Deputy Majority Leader, providing research and analysis on proposed legislation for potential conflicts between Senate and House bills.

Jessica’s husband, Tim Baker, has his own connections to Curry.

His consultant work was indispensable to Curry’s path from first-time candidate with scant name recognition to Jacksonville Mayor, then to reelection, with a popular referendum for pension reform along the way.

Jessica Baker’s challenge to Lake Ray comes as the current representative from HD 12, political ally Clay Yarborough, preemptively endorsed Ray earlier this month ahead of her filing. Sen. Aaron Bean and State Reps. Chuck BrannanCord Byrd, and Chris Latvala also back Ray, who has rolled out well over a dozen endorsements already.

Ray has fundraised steadily, with roughly $150,000 on hand between his campaign account and that of his state-level political committee. Baker has the connections and wherewithal, however, to close any gap quickly.

HD 12 is a Republican-leaning district under its current configuration, with more than 48,000 Republicans outnumbering the more than 38,000 Democrats. There are also more than 28,000 who belong to neither party.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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