With seven days until Election Day, Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley has two new ads criticizing Republican challenger Corey Simon for not “showing up” for Senate District 3.
The first ad, “Show Up,” features Mutaqee Akbar, a community leader and president of the NAACP Tallahassee Branch who slammed Simon on social media last month for ghosting a candidate forum he helped host. Now, Democrats and the Ausley campaign are capitalizing on what they’re characterizing as a string of no-shows.
“In my book, half of life is showing up, and if Corey Simon isn’t showing up for us now, why would we ever trust him to be there for us in the State Senate?” Akbar asks in the ad.
While the district is centered on Tallahassee, where both candidates reside, SD 3 spans 13 counties: Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla.
The second ad, “Van,” shows a van driving the rural roads of North Florida and Ausley meeting with voters. The candidate again says she travels the district to meet and listen to voters across the widest State Senate district in Florida.
“He’s ducked the tough questions and he’s refused to show up to forums and debates again and again,” Ausley says. “The way I see it, it’s my job to tell you where I stand, even when we disagree, and as long as I’m your State Senator, that will never change.”
The 30-second ads, paid for by the campaign arm of the Senate Democratic caucus, is part of a final push to carry Ausley across the finish line in a tightly contested and pivotal Senate seat.
Many consider Simon — as Black man and a familiar face as a Florida State University football All-American and national champion and for his career in the National Football League — to be an ideal candidate for the GOP, and some political observers expect him to unseat Ausley.
With SD 3’s expansion into a total of 13 counties, geographically the largest in the state, it grew from a seat that voted for President Joe Biden by 9 percentage points in 2020 into one he would have carried by only 3 points. That, plus Ausley’s underperformance as compared to Biden in 2020 and the recent reversal of Democrats’ fortunes in the polls, makes the race even more competitive.
Ausley served in the House from 2000 to 2008 and from 2016 to 2020 and was elected to the Senate in 2020, giving her 14 years of experience representing parts of North Florida.
Also bolstering Simon’s image is his community volunteerism, most prominently as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former pick for CEO of Volunteer Florida, and his stated willingness to think independently of Senate Republicans. Simon made a point of his intention to be a free thinker when discussing the lack of exception for rape and incest in Florida’s abortion restrictions during a debate last month.
But for community leaders like Akbar, that’s not enough.
“He and his supporters, whom I respect a great deal, argue we should support him as a Black man who happens to be a Republican because we need someone who looks like us, grew up poor, and from our community, in the room to speak up for us,” Akbar wrote in his Oct. 19 Facebook post.
“Note that this is the same Republican Party in the state of Florida who has made laws that intentionally targeted black people and other marginalized communities. My question is, how can we expect you to speak up for us if you win if you don’t show up to hear from us or allow us to hear from you (other than alllllll the mail we get) when you’re running?”