Volusia Republican Committee to endorse in some Primary races

Real Elephant Republican Symbol
At stake: prospect of candidate pictures on Republican party slate cards.

The Volusia County Republican Executive Committee is going to endorse preferred Republicans in federal, state and local Primary Elections.

The move has drawn some ire, frustration, and disinterest from some campaigns in the targeted races, as the county party seeks to present a slate of preferred candidates before the Aug. 23 Primary Elections.

One of those contests set to be decided at the Primary Election level was closed, allowing Republicans voters only, when Volusia Republican State Committeeman Vic Baker filed last week as a write-in candidate. The House District 30 contest also features Republicans Robyn Hattaway and Chase Tramont.

Baker said he did so because if Democrats want to vote in HD 30, they should have entered their own candidate.

“Democrats have no business voting in a Republican Primary,” Baker said.

Volusia Republican Chair Paul Deering called a special executive session meeting of the Republican Executive Committee for June 30. Members will vote on endorsements in Republican Primary Elections for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, Florida’s 7th Congressional District, and HD 30, and in the nonpartisan Primary Elections for seats on the Volusia County Council and Volusia County School Board.

Hattaway is among the candidates who might appear to be at a disadvantage. HD 30 spans the county line between Volusia and Brevard counties. Hattaway is from Brevard, while Tramont and Baker are from Volusia.

Hattaway expressed concern about what the Volusia Republican Party is doing, both with Baker closing her Primary Election, and with the decision to endorse in the Primary.

“It feels like the party hasn’t learned its lessons after the ghost candidate issues in the last one,” she said. “It’s awkward. I’m trying to stay in my lane and run my best race.”

The CD 6 Republican Primary Election is a non-event. Two-term incumbent Rep. Mike Waltz faces Charles E. Davis, who filed last July to challenge Waltz, but hadn’t raised a dollar in campaign money through at least June 1.

In CD 7, eight Republicans made the ballot for an open seat. That district spans all of Seminole County, where most of the voters are, plus part of southern Volusia.

Some CD 7 campaigns grumbled this week, raising concern that the Volusia REC includes several members of the campaign staff of CD 7 candidate Cory Mills, so opposing campaigns feel he might already have the inside track to the party’s endorsement. One campaign grumbled that the Volusia REC office in New Smyrna Beach looked like a Mills campaign office.

At stake, besides candidates’ ability to claim the county party’s endorsements, is the prospect of having candidate pictures on party slate cards that could be mailed to the 154,000 or so Republican voters throughout Volusia before the Primary Elections.

However, mixing spending for state, local, and federal races can be legally problematic. A spokesman for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) said Friday that a local party committee registered with the FEC is prohibited from using corporate funds in its non-federal account to conduct federal activity. That could include producing mixed-level slate cards, he said.

The Volusia REC is offering candidates two minutes apiece to make their cases before the votes at the June 30 meeting.

Some of the CD 7 candidates might skip it, citing a political hobnob scheduled for the Oviedo Winter Springs Chamber the same night. At least one Republican candidate, former Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards, confirmed that he’s choosing the Chamber event in Seminole over the Republican endorsement meeting in Volusia.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • Don't Cus--Caucus!

    June 24, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    I dislike the entire primary election system. It is a costly, confusing and counterproductive attempt to broaden the electoral process, rather than narrow it, which it ought to be. The American party process is well-established and ought to be left to the tender mercies of the people who are active within each party. As a Republican I have no desire to see the Democrats use taxpayer money to decide among their candidates, and I certainly do not want Republicans to do so, either. It should be an entirely intraparty process.

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