When a candidate like Dean Black gets in an open-seat Primary, two possible ways to overtake him are to go toe-to-toe racking up supporters within the Republican Party establishment, or make up for it with dramatic fundraising.
Military veteran and retirement planning counselor Emily Nunez of Yulee was unable to do either during the House District 15 campaign, netting 36.3% compared to Black’s 63.6% according to unofficial results.
Black, Chairman of the Duval County Republican Party, had to overcome Nunez’s “favorite daughter” role of being the only Nassau County resident in the race for a district that includes the whole county, along with northern and western portions of Duval.
Black solidified his position in Nassau in May. A spring brunch sported a host committee that included Sheriff Bill Leeper, Clerk of Court John Crawford, Tax Collector John Drew and Property Appraiser Mike Hickox. Hosts from the city of Fernandina Beach included Mayor Mike Lednovich, Vice Mayor Len Kreger, Commissioner Bradley Bean and Commissioner David Sturges.
Joining them were Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Gil Langley and Greg Cook, the General Manager for The Ritz-Carlton, at the residence of Buddy and Lorelei Jacobs in Amelia Island Plantation.
Nunez lost every Nassau County precinct to Black. Her best performance came at the Bryceville Community Center location, where Black still won 70 more votes, a more than 8-point advantage.
Nunez had endorsements from former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, state Rep. Anthony Sabatini and former U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, but those endorsements didn’t help in closing the fundraising gap with Black.
She also found her campaign the subject of complaints filed by former Duval County Court Judge Jerilynn O’Hara, which stated Nunez’s campaign website was paid for by a political committee known as Conservative Leadership Coalition without Nunez filing the required “statement of solicitation” form notifying the Division of Elections.
Another complaint said Nunez has sent fundraising emails and other campaign communications without the required disclosures — state law requires campaign communications state the candidate’s name, political party and the office they are running for.
With no Democratic opposition, Black is on his way to Tallahassee for the next Legislative Session.