21-year-old marketing manager takes on Jessica Baker in HD 17

Bryson Morgan via campaign HD 17
Democrat Bryson Morgan moves from selling steaks to high-stakes politics, challenging a well-known local Republican in a GOP-leaning district.

Opposition took its time to manifest against Rep. Jessica Baker, but just weeks before the qualifying deadline, a Democratic challenger has filed in House District 17 in southern Duval County.

Bryson Kade Morgan, a 21-year-old marketing manager for the Texas Roadhouse chain, is looking to take a bite out of the Republican supermajority in Tallahassee by defeating the wife of one of the region’s most proven political consultants.

Morgan, a graduate of Atlantic Coast High School and member of Jacksonville Young Democrats who has lived in the area since 2014, believes his professional experience translates to what will be an uphill battle against one of the most connected Republicans in local politics.

“So the thing is we need more regular people in office. We need people to not only understand what’s going on on the ground, but we also do need to understand that people with regular jobs can be lawmakers and my everyday job, that’s going to help me because I do have those personal connections,” Morgan said.

“I work with the public every day. My job, I’m not inside our building every day. I’m outside doing events, talking with people and hearing, hearing their concerns.”

Sounding like an evangelist for his employer, he noted that while Texas Roadhouse had raised prices just twice in the last year — nominal amounts — competitors in the same space are hiking prices, saying “these companies are benefiting their bottom line when a lot of corporations they’re just benefiting their bottom line, they’re not benefiting the consumer or their workers.”

Though Morgan insists he likely will vote for President Joe Biden, he’s not absolving the Delaware Democrat from blame for people not having that “expendable income,” suggesting that federal spending should be curbed, but not saying how specifically.

Other issues present problems with the President for Morgan also, such as LGBTQ+ rights, which he believes the President could work harder to secure nationally.

Regarding his opponent, Morgan says she’s a legislative “rubber stamp” for the agenda of Gov. Ron DeSantis (despite his team working against her bid for House leadership last year) and a funnel of bad legislation.

“I mean, there’s plenty of bills. I mean, I could rifle off about 50 right now,” he said.

Those include her HB 1297, a bill allowing for execution of rapists of children under the age of 12 without jury unanimity.

If elected, Morgan vows to fight for the rights of “marginalized” groups under attack in the DeSantis era, as well as for classroom teachers — cohorts that Baker likely won’t court for support.

Morgan hopes to have “sit-down” conversations with Democratic leaders in the city, including but not limited to Mayor Donna Deegan, Property Appraiser Joyce Morgan (no relation), and City Council members to broker backing. 

“Do I think that I could garner their support? I do. But that’s something that we’ll need to see happening here in the next couple, couple weeks, couple months,” the candidate said.

Morgan also understands the need for resources, saying that when it comes to fundraising, he’s very active: “I’m working my butt off.”

He’s going to have to work hard to overcome the partisan contours of this Republican-friendly district, the registration of which is 41.2% GOP and 29.4% Democrat, with no-party voters and third-party voters roughly equaling Democratic numbers. Baker defeated Michael Anderson 61% to 39% in 2022, suggesting that HD 17 voters are performing according to registration splits.

Baker has roughly $34,000 in hard money, according to records through March 31. It’s unclear at this writing what political committee she is using this cycle. 

So it may seem like a long shot based on the numbers, but Morgan’s aware of the odds.

And he’s part of a local youth movement, being the second-youngest Democratic candidate this cycle. Benjamin Sandlin, who is challenging Rep. Wyman Duggan in HD 12, is just 20 years old.

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

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 28, 2024 at 11:07 am

    Faces should be on ballots. Let’s tell the MAGAs its so you can be sure a candidate is (probably) white.

    But TBH, this candidate is prettier than crazyface MFL Jessica.

    If we could just see the crazyfaced MAGAs and MFLs when we vote, I don’t think many of us could pull the lever for them.

Comments are closed.


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