The race to face U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz in the Nov. 8 General Election for Florida’s 1st Congressional District heated up in the weeks leading up to the Aug. 23 Primary Election as Democrat Peggy Schiller sued Leon County Circuit Court to remove Rebekah Jones from the ballot.
A judge disqualified Jones from the ballot, saying she couldn’t appear as a Democrat because she hadn’t been registered as one for a year before qualifying, but a judge granted a stay after she appealed the ruling.
Jones, a former data scientist with the Florida Department of Health, made national headlines when she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data. In December 2020 state law enforcement agents raided her home. That’s when Jones said she decided to run for office.
“Seeing guns pointed at my kids woke me up to the reality that no one is looking out for us, none of these politicians are losing sleep over our struggles,” she said.
Jones says there isn’t one single issue that “isn’t connected in some way to a dozen other issues needing (to be) fixed in Northwest Florida.”
“Affordable housing, environment, infrastructure, and education are high up on the list of priorities for people here,” Jones said. “Depressed economics impacts each of those issues, though — low wages, high rent, lack of respect for our school staff and teachers all factor into a lower standard of living here. You have to tackle all of those issues, otherwise, you’re just plugging holes in a sinking ship without dealing with why the holes keep popping up to begin with.”
Schiller currently serves as the Voter Protection Team Leader and Vice Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee in Walton County.
On her campaign website, Schiller describes herself as “a selfless advocate who understands the importance of listening to varying viewpoints, working to reach compromise, and taking action for others.”
Schiller worked as a corporate lawyer in New York before starting a small business with her husband.
The winner of the Democratic Primary will likely face Gaetz, who is up against Marine Corps veteran Mark Lombardo in the Republican Primary.