Jay Collins appeals to veterans in ‘Salute to Service’ event in South Tampa
Jay Collins. Image via Jay Collins campaign.

Jay Collins
Collins is running against incumbent first-term Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz for the Senate seat.

Senate District 14 candidate Jay Collins hosted a “Salute to Service” Tuesday night in South Tampa to promote his campaign among veterans and first responders.

The Republican Collins has made his experience as a retired U.S. Army Green Beret a significant part of his campaign, and he was honored by Major Mack Macksam on behalf of the Veterans Art Center of Tampa Bay Tuesday night. There, he was also given a commissioned piece of artwork completed for the Army’s 247th birthday and recognized by Steve Coker of the Tampa VA Network.

At the event, Collins hosted veterans, military spouses and first responders who spoke in support.

“I want to say thank you for coming out here and thank you for sharing your time with us and for everything you do,” Collins said, addressing the attendees Tuesday night.

“I’m honored to have earned the support of so many that have served our nation and community. This campaign has never been about me, but is truly about ‘we.’ To see such a crowd come out for this, it’s really a testament to how dedicated we are to give back to those who have given so much for our nation.”

Collins is running against first-term Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz for the Senate seat. Despite facing an incumbent, Collins has continued to gain momentum with help from Republican leadership.

Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo hosted a fundraiser for Collins last Thursday, and Republican leadership continues to rally behind the political newcomer in hopes of winning the seat held by Cruz.

The host committee of Collins’ fundraiser was packed with members of Florida’s Republican leadership and a slew of GOP Senators, including CFO Jimmy Patronis, Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Speaker-designate Paul Renner.

In the latest campaign fundraising reports released near the start of September, Collins reported hefty support from GOP leadership. His affiliated political committee, Quiet Professionals FL, received $10,000 from House Speaker Pro Tempore Bryan Ávila’s political committee, Fighting for Florida’s Families. In July, Ávila’s committee gave Collins a $20,000 boost — a testament to how much Republicans want this seat.

In mid-August, the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee also provided Collins’ campaign $38,100 worth of in-kind contributions. The in-kind donations included $17,500 for campaign consulting services, $9,600 for polling, $6,000 for research and $5,000 for campaign staff.

But Democrats aren’t ignoring Cruz.

In the same time frame the Republican Senatorial Committee was contributing services to Collins, the incumbent collected $38,697 worth of in-kind contributions from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Those gifts included $33,000 worth of polling and research and $5,500 on consulting services.

And the committee hasn’t stopped there. In the most recent period covering late August, the Democratic committee covered $8,278 in costs, including about $6,000 worth of staff payroll and $2,000 in office rent for Cruz.

The competitive spending by both parties shows how vital this Senate seat is.

The two are in for a tough race, with Cruz boasting a hefty war chest. She started September with $640,309 in available spending money between her campaign account and affiliated political committee, Building The Bay PC. Collins began the month with $358,959 between his two fundraising sources.

SD 14 is a blue-leaning seat, but a competitive one. About 51.25% of voters under the new SD 14 lines favored Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election while 47.33% voted for Republican Donald Trump.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


  • KurtinOC

    September 21, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Hey MAGAts.. This is your Leader:

    Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’


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  • KurtinOC

    September 21, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    Hey MAGAts..

    This is your Party

    Senate Republicans block bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits


  • Joe Corsin

    September 21, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    Republicans only care about shoveling money to the rich. If given the chance they would privatize the VA and eliminate a lot a veterans benefits. Republicans care only about the rich. They are full of sht. If this dude was for real he’d be a democrat instead of a nazi party Republican.


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