Former state Rep. Lake Ray announced an endorsement Tuesday from a “legendary Florida public servant” as he runs to serve new voters in an eastern Duval County district.
John Thrasher — a recent President of Florida State University who served as chair of the Republican Party of Florida, a state Senator and Speaker of the Florida House — said Ray’s experience was what made him the best bet in what is currently a four-candidate race for the GOP nomination in House District 16.
“Tallahassee is no place for on-the-job training. We need experienced conservative leaders like Lake Ray to make sure that District 16 has a seat at the table when decisions are being made. Jean and I have known Lake for many years, we know his abilities and his character and we are 100% behind him,” Thrasher said.
Ray stated, “John Thrasher has given a lifetime of public service to Florida. From being awarded two Bronze Stars during his Army service to becoming Speaker of the Florida House, a Florida State Senator and ultimately as President of Florida State University, it would be impossible to fully list all of the positive things that he has done for our state. I have been blessed by his friendship and am humbled by his endorsement.”
Thrasher was one of a group of recent endorsements for Ray, who designated his campaign to HD 16 after legislative redistricting earlier this year. State Rep. Scott Plakon is also on board, as are former Atlantic Beach Mayors Mike Borno and Mitch Reeves, and Neptune Beach City Councilman Scott Wiley. Ray has stacked endorsements since launching his campaign last year in the former House District 12.
Ray, who served in the House for four terms, is the second leading fundraiser in the field, with roughly $145,000 on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, A Stronger Florida for Us.
Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Chet Stokes reported nearly $260,000 in his first month as a candidate, a sum boosted by $150,000 in personal funds. Stokes is the leading fundraiser.
Other candidates have failed to match this kind of money.
Lawyer Heath Brockwell and Angel Mom Kiyan Michael are also in the field, and each candidate has roughly $15,000 on hand.
HD 16 should be a safe Republican seat, with both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis getting more than 55% of the vote in their most recent elections.