Ghost of 2020 hangs over Jason Brodeur, Joy Goff-Marcil contest in SD 10
Jason Brodeur gave up the ghost in his defeat of Joy Goff-Marcil.

goff-marcil Brodeur SBS
But the incumbent enjoys an advantage in cash — and now registered voters.

The race for Senate District 10 in Central Florida has remained one of the most closely watched in Florida throughout 2022. But the 2020 election that installed the incumbent has loomed over it the whole time.

Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican, faces a challenge from Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil. The competition marks a rare occasion when Democrats invested heavily in offense this cycle. Brodeur and Miami Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia are the only GOP incumbents Senate Victory directed major resources toward unseating. That includes making the district, which covers parts of Orange and Seminole, a chief stop on a bus tour of the state.

Both Brodeur and Garcia won election in the same class, in 2020 — under similarly scrutinized circumstances. Republican operatives in both their districts allegedly recruited candidates to run with no party affiliation, dubbed “ghost candidates,” in an apparent effort to siphon off votes from Democrats. Both won close contests.

In Brodeur’s case, he ended up with securing a majority, 50.3% support, over Democrat Patricia Sigman. He took the race by just 7,644 votes. Meanwhile “ghost” candidate Jestine Iannotti, who had misleading mailers sent out on her behalf that used a stock photo of a Black woman, took 5,787 votes.

This year, prosecutors brought charges against Iannotti, consultant Eric Foglesong and Seminole County Republican Party Chair Ben Paris, who notably works for Brodeur at his day job running the Seminole Chamber of Commerce.

Paris was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge in September, and both Iannotti and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg both told investigators Brodeur knew about or was expected to support her candidacy. Brodeur has denied any knowledge of the scheme.

Regardless, it’s been central in Democratic attacks against the incumbent. Goff-Marcil called on the incumbent to drop out or resign after Paris’ conviction.

But the candidates have agendas as well.

“I am running for clean drinking water for future generations, for protecting a woman to make her own health care decisions,” Goff-Marcil said. “I’m running to fully fund public education and invest in teachers — and for election integrity.”

Brodeur has stressed his business background. “I’m proud of my record of defending Central Florida’s small businesses, and I’ll continue fighting against mandates, lockdowns and unnecessary taxes that hurt our local job creators,” he posted on Facebook.

Brodeur, a former House member himself, chairs the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, giving him significant sway on water quality resources and other conservation issues.

Incumbency also comes with financial advantages. Heading into the final month of the campaign, Brodeur controlled more than half a million dollars in cash on hand ready to deploy on his behalf, while Goff-Marcil had less than $30,000 left to spend. That came after she poured more than six figures into advertising efforts in SD 10.

And the Florida Democratic Party has made a priority of the race as well, pumping upward of $120,000 into the race even before the bus tour came to town.

Under a new Senate district map approved by the Legislature, Democrats found reason for optimism in SD 10. About 51.5% of voters under the new lines voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, compared to 47.06% who backed Republican Donald Trump. Of course, under the old Senate District 9 lines, Brodeur won more than 50% of the vote even as Biden won the district with 49.36% to Trump’s 49.24%.

Of note, major voter registration successes by the Republican Party of Florida have shifted the district to the right. When voter rolls closed for the General Election, there were 727 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the district, erasing a Democratic advantage held all cycle up until that point.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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