With March fundraising nearing a close, candidates for state House seats in the Jacksonville area are, for the most part, making their intentions known.
However, there are still some gaps, and the ultimate resolution to these may not come until after the Special Session on congressional redistricting in April.
One such gap is presented by a current incumbent. Rep. Cord Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican, is filed to run in House District 11, despite the new maps having Byrd in HD 15.
The new HD 11 contains northern Clay County, and Byrd will not be running there. His failure to redesignate to his correct district comes as many expect that he might jump into the Senate race at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis against Rep. Clay Yarborough.
The resolution of this conflict may come down to differences between Yarborough and Byrd on the congressional map. Byrd voted against the Legislature’s congressional map during regular Session, a position that aligned with DeSantis, who vetoed it. Yarborough went with the legislative leadership and voted for the map.
The other major gap is presented by a former legislator who has already served four terms in the Legislature, but who may not be on the ballot after qualifying.
Republican Lake Ray is currently designated to run in HD 12, which he represented through 2016 on the previous maps. However, the new HD 12 is a district connecting parts of Jacksonville’s Westside and Southside, spanning the St. Johns River. And currently filed in that district is the well-regarded, deeply-connected Wyman Duggan, who represented what was HD 15 on Jacksonville’s Westside from 2018 to the present.
Ray’s plans may depend on what happens in the Senate race. If DeSantis backs Byrd, Rep. Yarborough may end up having to run for another term in the state House. That could be in the new HD 16, which will encompass areas including much of the current HD 12, but will also contain Jacksonville’s Beach communities. Currently filed in that district: Rogers Towers lawyer Adam Brandon, Jacksonville Beach trial lawyer Heath Brockwell, and Angel Mom Kiyan Michael.
One school of thought has Ray potentially running in that district, but not if Yarborough runs.
Other districts have fewer variables.
As we reported last week, Rep. Angie Nixon redesignated to HD 13, where the new maps put her. HD 13 incumbent Tracie Davis is running for state Senate.
Nixon previously represented HD 14, and two candidates will vie for that Democratic nomination. Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis and Mincy Pollock will be in that race. Dennis is the Democratic establishment favorite there.
HD 17, a Jacksonville Southside district that includes the University of North Florida, will not see an incumbent run, but that doesn’t mean the GOP establishment doesn’t have a stake. 7th Circuit Assistant State Attorney Jessica Baker, the wife of political consultant Tim Baker, is in the mix there. She has raised over $400,000. A second Republican, Jordan Wells, hasn’t reported any fundraising yet.