The Tea Party advocate upset the local Republican establishment’s candidates, garnering 42 percent of the vote. His final vote total, 3,480, reflected a 23-point shift in the initial polling for the House District 2 seat.
Sheriff David Morgan
The Escambia County Sheriff proved that his endorsement means something in a tight race. Hill’s popularity soared with Morgan’s endorsement and added credibility to the relatively unknown’s campaign.
The Committee For A Better Florida
The conservative Electioneering Communications Organization pumped tens of thousands into the House District 2 Republican primary. Its targets were former Gulf Breeze Mayor Ed Gray and former Pensacola City Councilman Jack Nobles. Mike Hill was the obvious beneficiary of the negative mailers.
House District 2 was redrawn in 2012 to ensure that the city of Pensacola and southwest Escambia County controlled this seat. The new boundaries worked. Ed Gray dominated the Gulf Breeze vote, but made little headway across Pensacola Bay. Once Hill moves into District 2, we will find out if he will be a city or county resident.
Peter Schorsch and his political blog that is based in St. Petersburg predicted that Hill would win. His polling of the district proved to be the most accurate throughout the short primary period.
Ed Gray III
The House District 2 GOP primary was his first loss since he ran for class treasurer in fifth grade. He ran a solid, positive campaign but failed to stem the onslaught of negative ads that misrepresented his stellar record of public service.
The Escambia County Commission chairman endorsed Scott Miller. At the time, the polls had Miller tied for second place in the Republican field with Mike Hill with 12-percent of the voters. Miller finished with 389 votes—4.7 percent of the votes cast.
Local GOP Power Brokers
The “smart” local money backed Ed Gray, who raised over $100,000 for the Republican primary. The money was nice, but the group failed to deliver hardily any votes in Pensacola and Escambia County. Votes are what count.
For Ed Gray to have won the GOP primary, he needed four candidates to take Escambia County votes away from Mike Hill. About 2,400 votes were projected to win the primary. Instead Hill ran away with the victory with over 1,000 votes more than the projection. Mark Taylor placed a distant third with 752 votes, followed by Jack Nobles 672, Scott Miller 389 and David Radcliffe 193.