John Rutherford draws Primary challenger

Mara Macie
Mara Macie got less than 20% of the vote last year, but she's challenging the incumbent again in 2024.

It appears that Jacksonville’s U.S. Rep. John Rutherford will face a Primary challenge after all.

Mara Macie has filed in the Primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Duval and part of St. Johns County.

This is a repeat matchup.

Macie was one of two Primary challengers to Rutherford in 2022. She was unsuccessful, getting 18% of the vote and finishing in a distant second place, with Rutherford taking 66% in that election.

When asked about how she might improve on her finish last year, she said it was a matter of resources rather than candidate quality, arguing the finish “has a lot more to do with money and I think you know that.”

Money almost certainly will be a factor this time around. In Q3 of this year, Rutherford raised nearly $125,000 and had nearly $390,000 banked as of the end of September, according to Federal Election Commission data. Of the new money, $27,225 came from individuals, $65,000 from political committees, and $32,392 from other authorized committees.

Macie also expects the “pay-to-play” media to come under scrutiny in this race. She believes they don’t tell the whole story.

“This is going to be all about educating people and it is going to be a battle,” she said. “We have been working behind the scenes a lot over the past year and a half since the last campaign to help expose how these things are run and that includes how they are run through the media and how the media gets some kickbacks for putting out certain things, as opposed to putting out maybe accurate things.”

Macie believes “there’s a lot of pay to play out there and I think that when you educate the people that they can’t necessarily believe everything they hear in the media, in addition to how these political networks work behind the scenes with PAC washing and getting money from one candidate to another and dark money.”

“Until the people are aware that that is what happens, we are going to be stuck with establishment politicians and I don’t know that there’s going to be much left to save if we can’t fix this now,” she added.

Just as was the case in 2022, more than one challenger may manifest for this seat. Duval County School Board member April Carney tells Florida Politics that a “major bundler” has reached out to her to gauge her interest in running, amid Rutherford’s refusal to support U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan for Speaker.

Macie calls Carney a friend but doesn’t believe she’s going to run, and said she’s “not concerned” about potentially splitting the vote with her in any case, contending she’s “not concerned about splitting the vote more than I’m concerned about doing what’s right.”

Carney and Macie both objected to Rutherford’s vote, but for Macie’s part, it’s not determining why she is running but does point to his lack of interest in what voters want.

“He doesn’t listen to his constituents. So I don’t care who he wants to be the Speaker. He needs to be listening to the people that are putting him in office and it isn’t about who he wants,” Macie said.

We reached out to Rutherford’s lead consultant, Tim Baker, for comment from the incumbent’s camp. He said “it’s a free country.”

“God bless anyone who wants to seek serving their community,” he added.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


7 comments

  • My Take

    October 23, 2023 at 3:23 pm

    How dare he abide by principle!

    • Jack Meoff

      October 27, 2023 at 8:02 am

      “Principle”
      LOL, you slay!
      You should do stand-up. You’d make a fortune!

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  • MH/Duuuval

    October 23, 2023 at 7:43 pm

    I’d be happy to consider a candidate besides Rutherford, but neither Macie nor her friend Carney offer anything different from what Rutherford has served up.

    I warrant Rutherford’s votes against Gym Jordan will go down as his finest moment. It was a Popeye moment — for those old enough to remember the TV cartoon character who, when fed up, would say “That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more.” Then he would proceed to give the villain a serious whupping.

    • My Take

      October 23, 2023 at 10:45 pm

      “He eats all his spinach
      And fights to the finish!”

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 24, 2023 at 11:19 am

        If you’re up to it, email MC Rutherford and ask him to support for Speaker either of the two members who voted to certify the 2020 Presidential elections. The other six, including the bounder Byron Donalds, are election deniers and clearly would lie to get what they want. (Or, they are abnormally gullible for educated humans.)

        • Jack Meoff

          October 27, 2023 at 8:04 am

          Racist comment. Not a good look.

Comments are closed.


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