Dean Black, chair of the Republican Party of Duval County, scored a key endorsement Tuesday in his campaign for the new House District 15 seat.
U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, a third-term Congressman who also served three terms as Jacksonville Sheriff, offered a strong statement of support.
“Dean is a veteran, business owner and patriot who has been on the front line for years fighting for our values. He has the knowledge, skills and abilities to service Northeast Florida. Dean is also a strong supporter of law enforcement and our brave first responders, which we need now more than ever,” Rutherford said.
The new seat encompasses western Duval County and all of Nassau County, and it is clear that Black is the early consensus candidate of the Jacksonville establishment.
Black has been ramping up for a House run for some time.
Black’s statewide political committee, True Conservatives, already has raised $170,000. Backers of his bid include Duval County Clerk of Court Jody Phillips, St. Johns County Clerk of Court Brandon Patty, former Representative Jay Fant, former Duval County Clerk of Court Ronnie Fussell, lobbyist Deno Hicks, and former candidate Judson Sapp.
HD 15 includes some, but not all, of the former HD 11. Nassau County is the common denominator between the two maps. But it trades the more moderate beach communities in Duval County for the western part of the county.
It will likely favor Republicans in the General Election. The district supported the recent campaigns of Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018 and former President Donald Trump in 2020, with each candidate receiving more than 63% of the vote.
Two candidates are filed in HD 11 who could redesignate for HD 15. Both are Republicans.
Bo Hodges of Hilliard has raised $311 in nearly a year as a filed candidate. Emily Nunez of Yulee filed last month, and has yet to report any fundraising.