The Democratic Primary in Senate District 5 has become a battle of competing claims of ideological purity, with Reggie Gaffney’s new television ad offering more ammo down the stretch.
But do his claims necessarily survive a fact check?
The 30-second “Ultra-MAGA Republicans” spot started airing on broadcast in Jacksonville Aug. 5, and makes the case that Gaffney’s Primary opponent, state Rep. Tracie Davis, is a GOP front.
Gaffney, a second-term member of the Jacksonville City Council, has embraced this line of argument seemingly in response to Davis saying he is “basically a Republican.” In doing so, he has taken some liberties with history.
The ad draws on a 2016 article in the Florida Times-Union’s saying Davis “worked well” with her Republican bosses to suggest that she was in league with Gov. Ron DeSantis. But it omits key context — the article was describing her work at the nonpartisan Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office.
As well, the spot repeats prior criticisms of Davis for voting for a Rick Scott-era budget that cut Medicaid, a vote that many Democrats joined Davis in making.
“Trusted Democrat” Gaffney, the narrator contends, “will be there for us.”
Gaffney has spent nearly $550,000 in this campaign, with nearly $70,000 of that outflowing during the week ending July 29. Between his campaign account and his Friends of Reggie Gaffney political committee, he had as of July 29 roughly $45,000 remaining.
Davis has spent over $300,000 in the two weeks ending July 29, with $295,000 of that money going to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is funding coordinated three-pack ads featuring Davis.
She has spent more than $660,000 this campaign between her campaign account and her political committee, Together We Stand. She had roughly $70,000 to spend as of July 29.
This Primary is closed, with only Democrats eligible to vote. A Republican and a write-in candidate have qualified, though the district is drawn to elect a Democratic winner in any General Election. Current Sen. Audrey Gibson is term-limited and running for Jacksonville Mayor.