Escambia County Pensacola

Game of Pensacola Political Chairs has begun (update)

October 16, 2017

State Rep. Frank White’s announcement on Friday that he will seek the GOP nomination for Florida Attorney General has started another round of musical chairs for various state and local offices, reminiscent of when Congressman Jeff Miller announced his retirement in 2016.

Don’t worry about White having the funds to run a statewide race. The rumor in Tallahassee is the freshman lawmaker will put $2 million of his own money in his campaign account.

White’s announcement may spur former State Rep. Mike Hill to switch from his race in District 1 to White’s District 2 seat. Rebekah Bydlak is kicking Hill’s butt in fundraising for the District 1 seat.  Hill held the District 2 seat until he made a bid for Florida Senate, losing to Doug Broxson in 2016 GOP primary.  Hill was hurt in the race because of bad publicity for claiming Portofino as his residence to hold office but having his wife and family live in Marcus Point.

Other names being mention for the House District 2 seat are Mayor Ashton Hayward, Commissioner Grover Robinson and attorney Doug Bates. Democrat Ray Guillory has pre-filed for the seat.

Hayward and Robinson are also two names being mentioned for the Pensacola mayor’s race. Hayward has served two terms, and many believe he will seek a third. Robinson has announced that he will not seek a fourth term as county commissioner and is seen as Hayward’s most likely challenger. Neither Hayward nor Robinson have pre-filed.

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Update: Frank White called to say that House Speaker Corcoran did not encourage him to run as has been rumored. He also said that he will be making a “substantial” initial contribution to his campaign but it won’t be $2 million.

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  • Scott Miller October 17, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    For what it is worth, the AG seat, like the Ag Commissioner seat is typically not very expensive to fund. Bill McCullum raised $3.4 mil while Pam Bondi raised $1.8 mil. In short, about $2 mil is the territory that you need to raise to be competitive.

    Of those who have prefiled, Jay Fant (R-Jacksonville) raised $272,943.93 in his last campaign and loaned his campaign another $374,650.00. Ultimately he wound up winning a close primary by a mere 2 votes. He has currently raised $208,075.00 and loaned his campaign $750,000.

    At 31, Ashley Moody became the youngest elected judge in Florida history. In her only contested election, she raised $120,614.15 and lent her campaign $20,000. She has currently raised $864,146.00 with no loans to her campaign.

    Despite being unopposed in the primary and facing an opponent with only a $5,349.48 budget in his 2016 election for State Representative, Frank White raised a very respectable $251,945.00 plus a $50,000 loan to his campaign.

    While money is not everything in a campaign, there is a certain amount that you need to be competitive.

    Moody’s limited campaign experience is concerning, while she won a hard race in a runoff, judicial races lack the rough and tumble nature of other types of campaigns because of draconian restrictions placed on them. Not the other hand, the fact that she has raised four times as much money as Fant bodes well for her ability to fund raise in the final stretch.

    Fant’s willingness to dump large sums of cash into his campaign shows that he has a high degree of confidence in his ability to stay in until the end. On the other hand, the fact that he is having to loan $750,000 to his campaign to be competitive is a little disheartening.

    White’s ability to raise substantial amounts of money even when it is clear that he has no competitors in a local race shows high potential to also be in the thick of things on Primary day.

    From my comfy little arm chair, I see the race really being between White and Moody. The next sixty days will tell a lot about this race but I expect that White will do quite well and probably pull out a nail biter.

  • Liz October 16, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Hayward would be eaten alive in FL House. Pretty can’t cover for stupid outside of Pensacola.