Former Rep. Kim Daniels looks to return to Tallahassee from Jacksonville’s House District 14, and winning a four-way Primary will all but accomplish that.
But the question to be resolved as votes are counted Tuesday is whether voters even want her in Tallahassee, given how her last stint ended.
Daniels, an evangelist by vocation, found herself on the other side of the culture wars from most of her caucus, as she backed socially conservative legislation, including a bill requiring parental consent for reproductive decisions. In a conversation during the 2020 Legislative Session with Florida Politics, she expressed frustration with the intraparty challenges, saying she voted with her party most of the time.
“Seems like 89% is not enough,” she said, vowing not to be “stroked” or “bullied” by Democrats, before making what turned out to be a fateful statement.
“I’m standing my ground. I have a right to be here. If they don’t like it,” Daniels said, “get a good opponent and send me home.”
From there, current Rep. Angie Nixon did just that, consolidating statewide support in the Democratic Party, while Daniels drew on financial support from Republicans and conservatives. With the Primary closed by a write-in candidate, Nixon was able to defeat Daniels by nearly 20 points.
This year’s redistricting ensured that Nixon’s tenure in HD 14 would last just one term, with the boundary of the district moved just enough to put her in adjoining House District 13, an open seat that pits Nixon against an opponent who raised just $450 throughout the campaign.
Yet while Nixon’s future is secure, Daniels’ is ultimately uncertain, given the realities of the four-way Primary field.
With days to go in the campaign, she still had resources to deploy, with nearly $47,000 in her campaign account as of Aug. 5. Daniels, a preacher by trade, has largely self-funded, pouring $88,400 into the campaign up until that date.
How Daniels spends this money, or if she does, will be worth watching.
A political committee is working on Daniels’ behalf also, as it did in the 2020 race.
The Florida Federation for Children PAC, which is Chaired by Step Up for Students founder John Kirtley, has collected more than $2 million over the years from various conservative names and organizations, including $23,000 from the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee on July 28. It has sent at least two mail pieces to Democrats attacking one of Daniels’ opponents, Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis.
Dennis, the establishment pick who has scored most meaningful endorsements, won election in 2015 and 2019 in Jacksonville’s Westside. He has won most endorsement battles, with unions and other core Democratic groups backing him.
Going into the stretch run, he had some money for the final push. Dennis has just under $11,000 in his campaign account, and nearly $34,000 in his political committee, Forward Progress.
Asked if Daniels was a legitimate Democrat, Dennis offered a tempered quote.
“The Democratic Party is a big tent party. She would not be able to run in the Democratic Primary if she was not a registered Democrat,” Dennis said.
Mincy Pollock, backed by the JAX Chamber’s political committee, otherwise faces an uphill battle, with roughly $14,500 in his campaign account and under $3,000 in his political committee, All Things Common.
A fundraising email sent late in the race acknowledged the deficit.
“We are short just $25,000.00 of our fundraising goal to finish this last stretch,” Pollock wrote supporters. “If everyone reading this contributes at least $100.00, we should reach that goal and reach our victorious win.”
And a fourth candidate, Iris Hinton, raised just $1,801 this cycle. She paid her $1,781 qualifying fee with that.
A write-in candidate has closed this Primary, which is a potentially meaningful distinction here.
In 2018, Daniels was able to win an open Primary to defend her seat, with Republicans and others crossing over for her. In 2020, with only Democrats eligible, the result went differently.
In a four-way Primary, however, it will be interesting to see if Daniels can be stopped.