A third Republican candidate is emerging in the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Clay Yarborough in House District 12.
Kiyan Michael, a lifelong Jacksonville resident, a Navy veteran, an “Angel Mom,” and a member of the Black Voices for Trump Advisory Board, filed paperwork Tuesday, joining former state Rep. Lake Ray and attorney Jessica Baker in the GOP primary field.
“I’m very excited to start the campaign for State Representative,” said Michael. “I am a political outsider with no ties to special interest groups in Tallahassee. My priorities are to give a voice to Angel Families like ours, help Gov. Ron DeSantis advocate for stronger measures to protect our state from illegal aliens, and help President Donald Trump be reelected in 2024.”
Michael achieved prominence during the legislative push to ban so-called sanctuary cities in 2019, a notable move because there were no actual sanctuary cities in the state to ban at the time. The Michaels and their son’s tragic story were spotlighted at the Governor’s first State of the State speech that year in that effort.
That law passed, but has since suffered setbacks in courts.
Despite the concerted efforts of DeSantis and legislators to solve what the Governor calls the “Biden border crisis,” Michael suggests that lawmakers have failed families like hers.
“I’m pursuing this office because our families deserve an America First agenda. The pain that we experienced during our son’s tragedy will have purpose. Angel Families can no longer look to our elected officials. We must take action ourselves, and I look forward to sharing our story and message on the campaign trail in the upcoming year,” Michael says.
Michael’s entry into the campaign makes what was already an interesting two-person race even more compelling, and it will be interesting to see how she addresses deficits in campaign financing and local visibility and name recognition.
Jessica Baker is the leading fundraiser in the field after just one month’s financial reports.
Baker, an assistant state attorney in Florida’s 7th Judicial Circuit, raised $132,950 for her campaign and an additional $87,100 for her political committee.
Baker’s list of donors is impressive and includes Susie Wiles, Kent Stermon, and the BestBet gambling entities. Wiles is an adviser to Trump‘s political operation, while Stermon is a close friend of DeSantis, whose endorsement would prove useful in a crowded GOP field.
Baker also boasts a list of notable endorsements. Senate President Wilton Simpson, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams, U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Michael Waltz, state Reps. Wyman Duggan and Jason Fischer, and former House Speaker John Thrasher back Baker, as do six members of the Jacksonville City Council.
Baker has the edge in endorsements, but former Rep. Ray represented the district for eight years, so he has tenure.
He launched his campaign in March and had roughly $174,000 on hand through the end of October, between his campaign account and political committee, A Stronger Florida for Us.
Ray has formidable endorsements also. Political ally Yarborough, who currently holds the seat, backs Ray, essentially his political mentor. Yarborough’s political committee contributed $10,000 to Ray’s in October.
Polling of what was then a two-person race showed Ray with the edge over the “unknown” Baker earlier this month.
“Ray holds a comfortable 18-point lead on the State Representative ballot though voters are largely undecided. He benefits from Baker being an unknown entity and has strong foundations of support with voters in the Northern region of the district, men, voters 70+, college-educated voters, middle-income earners, and high-propensity voters. Women, voters 18-54, those in the South, voters with no college degree, low- and high-income voters, and low-propensity voters are the most undecided group,” read the memo.
HD 12 is a Republican-leaning district 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, 2022.
While redistricting is underway and could change the map, this is a safe Republican seat for now.
Yarborough won reelection twice, getting roughly 60% of the vote against lightly funded Democratic opposition. Ray likewise faced no serious competition during his campaigns.