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OPINION | Duval Democrats and Republicans are taking different paths to the August primary

Twentieth-century poet Robert Frost noted that two roads diverged, and he chose the road less traveled.

Although Frost was the first poet to help inaugurate an American president nearly 75 years ago, he probably wasn’t thinking about party politics when he wrote “The Road Not Taken.” But what we’re seeing in Northeast Florida is two parties taking radically different paths to the State House this year.

First, the Republicans.

In Duval and elsewhere, they are largely avoiding messy primaries against incumbents. While open seats are a different story — see: the heated races to succeed Sen. Travis Hutson, House Speaker Paul Renner and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson in St. Johns and points south — there is no internal challenge for incumbent representatives like Jessica Baker , Dean Black and Wyman Duggan.

While the same cannot be said of Congressman John Rutherford, who is being pre-elected from the right by someone he previously defeated in the August primaries, Republicans are generally uniting before November, a positive sign for them – as if they have a lot need help in a state where they threaten to have a registration lead of a million people by Election Day.

Democrats?

They criticize each other for the leftovers they have in the Legislature, with a sitting senator and two state representatives facing challenges.

One of the challenges is not exactly serious: Francky Jeanty.

Sen. Tracie Davis, who is positioned to lead the Democratic caucus, has all the advantages: more than $270,000 in the bank, compared to Jeanty’s just over $2,500. Considering that she had roughly two-thirds of the vote against former City Councilman Reggie Gaffney in the primaries two years ago, one might suspect that a challenge for her is doomed from the start.

However, she will still have to spend time campaigning this summer. That’s certainly good news for political consultants, since she’ll have to waste a lot of the money on mailers and the like.

The most competitive primary race is what is now a close battle in House District 13, where firefighter Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville, will face a more transactional politician in the form of former school board member and city council member Brenda Priestly Jackson.

This could end up being close.

Those familiar with Nixon’s thinking claim she worries that business interests and charter school groups will help fund attacks on her, and Priestly Jackson will likely welcome that help, given her slow fundraising to date. (Nixon had about $75,000 to spend between her political committee and her campaign account at the end of May; Priestly Jackson had about $10,000.)

Some of Priestly Jackson’s support comes from former Republican colleagues on the City Council, including Randy DeFoor and a political committee tied to Rory Diamond. Diamond is often mentioned as a Republican Party candidate for mayor in 2027, so his help in a Democratic primary seems like one of the things Nixon could highlight, if Diamond actually has enough name recognition to commit to it in a postal piece doing.

The other wrinkle in this race: Terrance Jordan, an unaffiliated candidate whose presence will ensure that only Democrats can vote in the race in District 13. His motivations for running are unclear; he couldn’t wait to pick up the phone when I asked him why he is running as an NPA. It’s hard to say whether he’s a more likely plant for Priestly Jackson or Nixon, although Priestly Jackson said she expected someone to close out the primaries and noted, for whatever reason, that Jordan was a member of Gen asked her about it.

While it’s still great that he might have bought Nirvanas Forget it When it came out, running a campaign with no chance of winning and no specific platform has historically served no purpose to voters. It’s hard to get excited about what is essentially a ghost campaign, and those of us who have seen this show before know how these NPA/write-in campaigns go, often mysteriously ending after the primary wraps.

In House District 14, Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, will face competition: Therese Wakefield-Gamble and Lloyd Caulker are both on the ballot against the veteran evangelist-turned-politician, and NPA Briana Hughes has closed the primary. (And in case you were wondering, no, Hughes didn’t respond when I called to ask why she was on the run.)

Daniels received 44% of the vote in the primary two years ago, with former City Councilman Garrett Dennis offering the most resistance. While the “Demonbuster” is largely persona non grata in a Democratic Party with little use for her brand of social conservatism, it is difficult to imagine any of her politically inexperienced opponents overcoming a decade and a half of political capital in a few weeks. Primary August.

Once August is over, November awaits – and there too the two sides will have different approaches.

Republicans won’t bother playing in HD 13 or HD 14, but a group of Democrats will challenge Reps. Baker, Black, Duggan, Sam Garrison of Clay County and Rep. Kiyan Michael, R-Jacksonville.

Only time will tell how strong the underfunded campaigns of people like Charlie Browne, Ben Sandlin, Gary McManus, Rachel Grage and Bryson Morgan will be. The hope among some Democrats is that these political newcomers will find a way to increase Democratic turnout in November, perhaps giving President Biden and likely U.S. Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell a greater opportunity to stir unrest in November.

But in the end, it’s almost certain (barring a career assassination scandal for one of the incumbent Republicans) that Duval will be represented by two Democrats and five Republicans after the fall elections, a spread that reflects the Legislature’s creative plans more than the Democratic party. plurality in Jacksonville.