A Jacksonville Beach City Councilman is looking to move to the next level, opening an account to run in the new House District 16 this week.
Republican Chet Stokes is thus far the biggest name to enter a field that as of yet has not included a clear front-runner. The seat includes the Jacksonville Beaches and extends west toward the Arlington area.
“Our region needs bold leaders with vision representing us in Tallahassee — not the same tired figures of the past,” Stokes said. “I am ready to put my business experience and conservative values forward to fight for our region, including, defending the Constitution, fighting for limited government and promoting economic opportunity for our small businesses.”
Fundraising has been sluggish thus far for filed candidates.
Angel mom Kiyan Michael limped to $300 fundraising in March, with less than $13,000 in the bank. She was endorsed Tuesday by former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who called her “a true patriot who’s suffered the ultimate sacrifice and has the heart, passion, intellect, and knowledge to be a representative of the people.”
Jacksonville Beach lawyer Heath Brockwell hasn’t reported any financial activity in months. He had about $15,000 on hand at the end of March.
It’s unclear whether Stokes’ filing will keep other candidates out of the field. Former Rep. Lake Ray has not ruled out a run, and told a local GOP club he was thinking seriously about it. Ray has been raising money and campaigning this entire cycle.
Rep. Cord Byrd is also a possibility, assuming he doesn’t run for something else. Byrd, the current House District 11 incumbent, may be considering other options, however, with his name linked to a state Senate run, a congressional bid and a judicial appointment.
If Byrd runs in HD 16, much of the terrain will be new to him. HD 11 included the Beaches and Nassau County, more conservative overall than the new map. However, HD 16 is still a safe Republican seat, with Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis each getting more than 55% of the vote in their most recent elections.