Clay Yarborough is the heir apparent to Aaron Bean in SD 4
Clay Yarborough is on his way to the Senate — after one last hurdle:

yarborough smith
GOP Senate leaders rallied around Yarborough last year.

It’s been a long wait for Rep. Clay Yarborough, who’s been the heir apparent in Senate District 4 since summer 2021.

“President (Wilton) Simpson and Sen. (Kathleen) Passidomo are spearheading a commonsense revolution in the Florida Senate that puts our families first, and I am incredibly humbled to have their support,” Yarborough said when Senate leaders backed him more than a year ago. 

“Northeast Florida is a special place, and if given the opportunity to serve in the Florida Senate, I will continue the fight to ensure our schools and communities are safe, businesses are free to strengthen and grow our economy, and that freedom is always the prevailing wisdom.”

Outgoing Fernandina Beach Sen. Aaron Bean previously held the seat and is expected to be the next Representative from Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

Former Rep. Cord Byrd and Rep. Jason Fischer both appeared to be possibilities for the job, but Byrd ultimately accepted an appointment as Secretary of State, and Fischer finally decided to run for Duval County Property Appraiser. Both endorsed Yarborough, who was not opposed in the GOP Primary.

He faces Democrat Sharmin Smith, a Jacksonville Beach author who was the only Democrat to file for the seat, which has been described as having a Republican voter registration advantage that’s “insurmountable.”

In an interview a few weeks out from the election, Smith said she was chasing her dream of getting involved in politics and using her experiences to make the world a better place for others. 

She said she intended to run for the CD 4 nomination, but the filing fee was too expensive. The Senate race was the next one down the ballot and had no Democratic entry, so she filed for SD 4.

The whole justice system, she said, needs a look.

“It’s not just about reforming the police,” Smith said, “but it’s about the whole justice system. We have innocent people in prison, we have people who commit horribly violent crimes who get a slap on the wrist. There needs to be a complete audit and it needs to make sense for the citizens of our country, and it doesn’t.”

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


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