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Sunday July 22nd 2018

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When, What, Who

A look at the 2018 elections—when to vote, what’s up for grabs and who’s in the running

Inweekly expects 2018 to an active election year, both locally and statewide. One reason is that all the Florida Cabinet seats are up this year and none of the incumbents can run for another term, except for Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis who was appointed to post when Jeff Atwater resigned this past summer.

Governor Rick Scott is expected to set his sights on Washington and run against incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who has served in the Senate since 2001. In his three elections, Nelson has beaten his Republican opponents handily—Bill McCollum in 2000 (52%-47%);  Katherine Harris in 2006 (60%-38%); and Connie Mack IV in 2012 (55%-42%). However, Scott can raise millions and has the support of President Donald Trump. With the balance in the Senate so tight, no matter who runs the nation will be watching this race.

Scott’s rumored bid for the Senate means the Governor’s race is wide open on both sides. So far twelve Republicans have filed to run for the office. The frontrunner is Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, a moderate in the vein of former Gov. Jeb Bush. However, there are two names being mentioned as contenders who have yet to announce—Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Congressman Ron DeSantis. Word is Corcoran will wait until the end of the 2018 legislative session to announce. DeSantis got a nice plug from President Trump the week before Christmas. The president hailed DeSantis on social media as a “brilliant young leader” who would make a “GREAT governor” for the Sunshine State.

On the Democratic side, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham is the candidate the Republicans fear the most. Two mayors are challenging her—Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. However, the only candidate that could stop her juggernaut is Orlando attorney John Morgan, and he said over Thanksgiving that he had left the Democratic Party. That leaves us wondering if Morgan run as an Independent and be a spoiler?

Florida Attorney General is the one cabinet race that will attract local attention because State Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) has jumped in the race. Former Federal Judge Ashley Moody has the endorsement of Attorney General Pam Bondi and several Florida sheriffs, but she may not be conservative enough for some Republican, or, at least, that’s what White and State Rep. Jay Fant (R-Jacksonville) hope.

Looking at the local scene, two Escambia County Commission seats are up. With Commissioner Grover Robinson running for mayor, the District 4 race will be hotly contested with five Republicans contending. How they separate themselves from each other will be exciting to watch. City Councilman P.C. Wu has been mentioned as a possible late entry, but few consider him a serious contender. District 2 has Commissioner Doug Underhill seeking reelection to a second term against newcomer Alan McMillan. Everyone who Underhill upset last year have lined up with McMillan. Will the hospitality industry come through for Underhill in 2018 as it did in 2014?

The District 3 School Board race will be one to watch too. Linda Moultrie resigned without lining up a successor because she wanted to return to the post this year. Gov. Scott appointed Lee Hansen, and she has yet to prefile for the seat. Moultrie has.

In the city of Pensacola, everyone is waiting for Mayor Ashton Hayward to announce whether he will run for a third term. His social media and press releases seem to indicate that he will. We’ve been told some of his former supporters who have written checks for Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson, the only currently declared candidate for mayor, have received phone calls from the mayor. However Hayward has such strong name recognition and fundraising prowess that he could wait until June to make his decision and still give Robinson a strong race.

—SAVE THE DATES—
Everyone knows 2018 is an election year, but they probably don’t know actual voting dates yet. These are the main dates and deadlines to make note of.

Important Dates for Voters:
Primary Election: Tuesday, Aug. 28

•Voter Registration Deadline: July 30
•Vote-By-Mail Request Deadline: Aug. 22
•Vote-By-Mail Return Deadline: 7 p.m., Aug. 28

General Election: Tuesday, Nov. 6
•Voter Registration Deadline: Oct. 9
•Vote-By-Mail Request Deadline: Oct. 31
•Vote-By-Mail Return Deadline: 7 p.m., Nov. 6,

Important Dates for Candidates:

Federal and Judicial Offices
Qualifying Window: Noon, April 30–Noon, May 4
State, Multi-County, Escambia County and City Offices

Qualifying Window: Noon, June 18– Noon, June 22

—OFFICES UP FOR ELECTION AND RETENTION—
Here’s a breakdown on what will actually be on your ballots this year—locally and statewide.

Federal Offices
U.S. Senator (Bill Nelson’s seat)
Representative in Congress (All Districts)

Statewide Offices
Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Attorney General
Chief Financial Officer
Commissioner of Agriculture

Florida House
All Districts

Local Offices
Judicial – Nonpartisan

County Court Judge: Groups 2, 4 and 5

County Commission – Partisan
Districts 2 and 4

School Board – Nonpartisan
Districts 1, 2 and 3

Special Districts – Nonpartisan
Emerald Coast Utilities Authority: Districts 2 and 4
Santa Rosa Island Authority
Escambia Soil and Water Conservation District: Groups 1, 2 and 4

City of Pensacola – Nonpartisan
Mayor
City Council: Districts 2, 4 and 6

Town of Century – Nonpartisan
Town Council: Seats 3, 4 and 5

—PREFILED CANDIDATES—
With so many rumors and announcements, keeping up with who’s actually running for what can seem like a full-time job. We promise to do our best at that job and keep you in the know from now until November.  For starters, here’s a list of candidates that have prefiled as of Jan. 2.

Florida House, District 1
Rebekah Bydlak (REP)
Vikki Garrett (DEM)
Mike Hill (REP)

Florida House, District 2
Robert Alexander Andrade (REP)
William Daniel Bussing  (REP)
Raymond Clayton Guillory  (DEM)

Florida House, District 3
Jayer Williamson (REP)

County Commissioner, District 2
Alan McMillan (REP)
Douglas Underhill (REP)

County Commissioner, District 4
Robert Bender (REP)
Kendrick Doidge (REP)
William Fetke (REP)
Christopher Phillips (REP)
Boyce White (REP)

School Board, District 1
Kevin Adams

School Board, District 3
Laura Edler
Linda Moultrie
Larry Williams Sr.
J. Walker Wilson

City of Pensacola, Mayor
Grover Robinson IV

—PARTY LINES—
Just in case you’re curious, here’s what the partisan breakdown of registered voters currently looks like.

Voter Registration in Escambia County as of 12/29/2017
Republican      92,395 (45.0%)
Democrat         70,082 (34.2%)
No Party Affiliation     41,438 (20.2%)
Minor Parties  1,207  ( 0.6%)
Total    205,122

Voter Registration in Florida as of 11/30/2017
Republican      4,550,146         (35.3%)
Democrat         4,815,749         (37.4%)
No Party Affiliation     3,447,811  (26.8%)
Minor Parties  62,675 ( 0.5%)
Total    12,876,381

*All dates and voting numbers were found on escambiavotes.com