Write-in candidates close Duval House Primaries

A time-honored Jacksonville tradition continues in 2022.

A pair of Republican House Primaries that appeared to be potentially open contests closed Thursday after write-in candidates filed for the seats, and by the end of qualifying Friday, a Democratic race appears to have been closed by the same method.

In both Republican cases, those write-in candidates have history that suggests their ultimate aim is to keep Democrats and Independents from voting in these contests. Similarly, the write-in candidate closing the Democratic Primary in one field also is a registered Democrat.

In the Primary for the new seat in House District 16, two write-ins filed, and both are Republicans: Rick Hartley and Harley Moore. Hartley was a former Chair of the Republican Party last decade. Moore is a registered Republican.

Florida Politics called both candidates Thursday afternoon to see if their intent was to close the Primary, and were routed to voicemail on each call. We await a reply.

The write-in candidates join a competitive Primary.

Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Chet Stokes is the leading fundraiser, with over $310,000 on hand between his political committee and his campaign account. Former House District 12 Rep. Lake Ray has roughly half that sum on hand, while Kiyan Michael is far behind.

This district is drawn to perform Republican, and the filings quash any hope Democrats might have of playing in the GOP Primary without a party switch.

There likewise will be no open Primary in the new House District 15 that sees Duval County GOP Chair Dean Black squaring off with Nassau County’s Emily Nunez.

Write-in candidate Jerry Steckloff qualified this week. He’s run before: in 2016, Steckloff presented himself in HD 12, closing a Primary that included Rep. Clay Yarborough and current Jacksonville City Council Vice President Terrance Freeman.

Like the other write-in candidates, Steckloff’s voicemail was ready for our questions. We await word back.

Democrat Tammyette Thomas did not qualify, so Steckloff’s move was prescient.

Both parties play the party closure game, meanwhile.

In HD 14, meanwhile, write-in candidate Patrice Wynette Jones may not have bothered to set up a voicemail, but she did set up a closed Primary by filing. Jones is a registered Democrat. She just materialized as an active candidate Friday, suggesting her qualifying paperwork is being processed at this writing.

Closing Primaries is a familiar tactic in Northeast Florida, and can often mean the difference between winning a race and losing one.

Former Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels defeated a 2018 Primary challenger in an open election, but lost her 2020 Primary to Rep. Angie Nixon in a closed Primary, where the write-in who closed it ultimately withdrew before the General Election.

But closing a Primary is not a fail-safe.

Former 4th Circuit State Attorney Angela Corey lost her Republican Primary in 2016 despite an ally closing the election.

Corey defended the closing of the election as “perfectly legal” at the time, a move that led to a wave of party switching on behalf of current State Attorney Melissa Nelson.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Michael Hoffmann

    June 17, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    I switched party affiliation in 2016 to vote against Corey. It is a relatively simple process provided it is done in a timely fashion. And, it was great to see Corey go down — with my help.

    I got the added benefit of receiving mailers from the sad partisans of DJT until I went back to the Ds two or 3 years later. (Trump’s emails begging for money — in amounts as small as $6 — must make him the most pathetic politician since the Emperor’s New Clothes.)

  • tom palmer

    June 17, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    More GOP election fraud.

Comments are closed.


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