Democrats are dominating turnout in Early Voting in the race to fill the unexpired term of Jacksonville City Councilmember Tommy Hazouri.
They have more than a 16% advantage in vote share, and nearly a 4,000 raw vote edge.
Going into Monday morning, Democratic ballots made up 52.09% (12,554) of the 24,099 votes cast so far, according to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections. Republicans had 35.74% (8,613) of the vote share, with the rest spread among third party and NPA voters.
Though Democrats are building a lead, overall participation thus far has been anemic, with 3.73% turnout. But the trend lines should hearten Democrats nonetheless.
In both in-person early vote and mail ballots, Democrats hold majorities, with more raw votes than the combined total of Republicans, NPA, and third-party votes.
Four candidates are on the ballot for the First Election, which is on Dec. 7.
The leading fundraiser in the race is the choice of most establishment Democrats.
Democrat Tracye Polson, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, has raised $146,290 through the first reporting period ending Oct. 31. Of the $146,290, $14,850 was raised through her affiliated Better Jacksonville political committee, and $131,440 through the campaign, with $50,000 of that being her own money.
Polson ran for state House in 2018, and her endorsements reflect a track record as a viable candidate.
The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, the National Organization for Women, Sen. Audrey Gibson, Reps. Tracie Davis and Angie Nixon, City Council member Garrett Dennis, and School Board member Warren Jones have all endorsed her. Tommy Hazouri, the incumbent until he passed away in September, also was said to back Polson to succeed him.
Polson supporters tweeted Sunday about sign waving outside of various early voting locations, a sign of surging grassroots momentum for the campaign.
The second leading fundraiser, according to records of what is available, is a Republican with the inside track for most meaningful endorsements on that side. Republican Nick Howland raised $85,531 between his campaign and his Florida Freedom PAC political committee, through Oct. 31.
Howland, known for his work with the Fire Watch initiative combatting veteran suicide, currently has an ad on local television — a 30-second positive spot that showcases his family and his community ties and highlights his commitment to not bow to special interests.
Two other candidates are in also. They decrease the likelihood that the election could be decided outright on Dec. 7 with a majority vote for one candidate, but thus far they have struggled to raise money.
Republican Howland “Howdy” Russell, a restaurant owner, is not nearly as well-financed as Nick Howland. As of the most recent filing, the Russell campaign had less than $2,000 cash on hand.
Repeat candidate James Jacobs has a little more than $5,000 on hand. He ran for this seat in 2019, challenging Hazouri. Jacobs, a teacher, split the Democratic vote and forced Hazouri, whose health was already beginning to fail, into a runoff election in May to win re-election.
All four candidates are on the ballot for the First Election Dec. 7. If no candidate gets a clear majority, the top two finishers move on to the Feb. 22 General Election.
Once someone wins this election outright, they likely will have to start running for re-election immediately. The Special Election only fills the remainder of the unexpired Hazouri term through June 2023.
Democrats have a registration advantage. Of Duval County’s 645,248 voters, a total of 264,851 are registered Democrats, compared to just 227,177 Republicans. The rest of the voters are third party or NPA.
Despite the registration edge, city government is controlled by Republicans. The GOP holds all constitutional offices and a supermajority on the Jacksonville City Council.
A win here may convince Democrats they have a shot at making inroads in the 2023 citywide elections.
November 29, 2021 at 10:53 am
The Duval Republican Party organization is in shambles. The chairman desperately wants to be elected to something, his protégé wants to be rich and the party suffers. This has been a nice little grift for the two of them.
They were unable to deliver Duval for Trump after telling Gruters that they had it covered and now they have not been able to get Republicans out to vote in this special election after watching the delta between Ds and Rs widen on a daily basis.
I finally got an email from them notifying me of the election this past Saturday. Other R super voters have not. This tells me that they do not know how to do digital at all.
We need a change here before the 2023 municipal elections or we will have Deegan as Mayor. Uggh.
November 29, 2021 at 12:30 pm
Lets put Karyn Morton back as the head of the Duval Republican Party.
December 4, 2021 at 9:26 pm
I’m waiting for Election Day. And voting for Howdy Russell. I’m tired of political figures who serve donors over constituents.
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