Former Rep. Lake Ray added five endorsements from current Florida senators in his comeback bid for HD 12, the district he previously represented.
Sens. Dennis Baxley, Jim Boyd, Jeff Brandes, Doug Broxson, and Ed Hooper all endorsed Ray, who represented the Jacksonville district from 2008 to 2016, who hopes to return now that incumbent Rep. Clay Yarborough is running for Senate.
“I have served with Lake Ray and I know there will be no better advocate in the Florida House to take on the issues facing Floridians today. Lake is forward thinking with a proven track record (and) will serve his constituents and the state with honor and integrity,” Brandes said.
“Lake Ray is a common-sense conservative with a history of helping to make our state a better place to live, work and raise our families. Some people will tell you what they think that they can do, Lake can tell you what he has already done,” added Baxley.
“I want to thank these statewide leaders for their faith in me and look forward to working with them in serving the people of Florida in Tallahassee. It is a bit humbling to know that these leaders have offered their support and encouragement,” Ray responded.
Ray launched his campaign in March and has roughly $150,000 on hand between his campaign account and political committee, A Stronger Florida for Us. The current Representative from HD 12, political ally Clay Yarborough, backs Ray, essentially his political mentor. Sen. Aaron Bean and Reps. Chuck Brannan, Cord Byrd, and Chris Latvala also support Ray, who has real competition.
First-time candidate Jessica Baker, an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 7th Circuit, is also running for the GOP nomination.
She has amassed endorsements of her own, including Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams, Congressmen John Rutherford and Michael Waltz, State Reps. Wyman Duggan and Jason Fischer, Senate President Wilton Simpson, and former House Speaker John Thrasher.
HD 12 is a Republican-leaning district as currently mapped, 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.
There are months to go before the election, with the Primary scheduled for Aug. 23. Assuming a Democrat or NPA candidate files to oppose the GOP Primary winner, the General Election will be Nov. 8.
While redistricting is underway and could change the map, it’s a safe Republican seat for now.
Yarborough won reelection twice, each time getting roughly 60% of the vote against lightly-funded Democratic opposition. Ray likewise faced no serious competition during his campaigns. However, the last time the seat was open in 2016, the Primary was brutal and expensive, suggesting the fight between now and August could be heated, even if a General Election might not be.
As well, there could be some surprises in the eventual map.
Byrd, who chairs the Legislative Redistricting Committee, said Wednesday that some districts could look “radically different.”