John Dailey-Kristin Dozier showdown in Tallahassee Mayor race splits Democrats
The mayoral race splits Tallahassee Democrats.

Dailey dozier
The showdown between Democrats in Florida's capital city could signal which way the party is headed amid a bleak Midterm outlook.

The Tallahassee Mayor’s race between incumbent John Dailey and challenger Kristin Dozier is a local election that will hinge on local issues, but the result could have implications for the Democratic Party at the state level.

Dailey, 49, was elected in 2018 after serving on the Leon County Commission for the previous 12 years. Dozier, 46, is a sitting Leon County Commissioner and has served on that panel since 2010, overlapping Dailey’s tenure.

Dailey’s support for new developments has gained him support from builders and local business groups, and Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz announced his endorsement of Dailey last month.

That backing drew derision from Dozier and her supporters, as well as progressive activists who have slammed Dailey’s coziness with developers. The Leon County Democratic Party, in response to Diaz, endorsed Dozier. Thomas Kennedy, a Miami activist and member of the Democratic National Committee, called for Diaz to resign on Nov. 9, the day after the election.

Diaz’s endorsement rankled Dozier, who noted she received 148 more votes than Dailey in the Primary Election out of more than 38,000 ballots cast. Two other candidates, Mike Ibrahim and Whitfield Leland, received a small percentage of the vote, sending Dailey and Dozier to a runoff in the General Election.

Statewide political implications aside, the race will largely come down to how voters see the candidates’ views on how best to manage and promote Tallahassee’s growth while tackling crime.

One of the most heated issues is Dailey’s support for a measure to spend $27 million in economic development funds on improvements to Florida State University’s (FSU) Doak Campbell Stadium. That vote has spurred controversy, drawing detractors in Dozier and her supporters, who say FSU could’ve raised the money on its own and such funds could instead be used on other projects to diversify the local economy.

Dailey has defended his vote for the stadium project by pointing to the 1,000 expected jobs it will support. He has also touted his push for a stricter ethics code after his predecessor, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2018 who narrowly lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis, was arrested on corruption charges involving an alleged scheme to funnel campaign money to himself.

For Dozier, that hasn’t been enough, as she argued more transparency is needed in City Hall to prevent “backroom deals.”

Gray Rohrer


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