If you weren’t aware that this Tuesday is primary day, you have either been vacationing on a distant island for the past year, or you’ve stayed in your house all the time and haven’t see the many signs that have sprouted like wildflowers on yards and roadsides from Alligator Point to Odena.
This Tuesday, beginning at 7 a.m., Democrats and Republicans will have a chance to cast ballots on who they want to represent their respective parties to run for statewide office, and for Congress, as well as locally for tax collector.
In addition, they, along with those without party affiliations will have a chance in the nonpartisan races to pick who will be the next 2nd Circuit judge, who will be the next county judge, and in two districts, who will sit on the school board.
Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley thinks it’s going to be a huge turnout.
“If we can get a 75 percent turnout, I’d be happy,” she said. “I’m hoping for a really good turnout, 80 to 85 percent.”
So far county voters are more than one-quarter of the way there.
As of Tuesday, about 21.5 percent of registered voters, or 1,603, have cast ballots, either in person at early voting sites, or in votes by mail.
Of the 710 early voters, 442 have been cast by Democrats, 224 by the GOP, and 44 by those without party affiliation. Of the 893 vote by mail ballots, 457 have been cast by Dems, 361 by Republicans, and 75 by those not registered with either party.
She said turnout has been especially strong in District 3, where Fonda Davis Sr. and Roderick Robinson, Jr. are battling it out for an open school board seat, and where the two Democratic contenders for the tax collection nomination of their party, Teresa Ann Martin and Tami Ray Hutchinson, both reside.
The judges’ races on the ballot will both be decided on Tuesday.
In the race to succeed retired judge Van Russell, Barbara Sanders, 63, of St. George Island, and Jay Gordon Shuler, 56, of Apalachicola, are the two frontrunners in the non-partisan race, while a third candidate, Roseanna Bronhard, 52, of Crawfordville, is a long-shot to take the seat, given the county’s long record of supporting local residents over those from outside the county.
Both Sanders and Shuler have posted numerous signs emblazoned with their smiling faces across the county, perhaps the first time that area residents will have a good visual of what the judge looks like when they are stepping into county court for the first time on a misdemeanor charge.
All voters also will choose between three candidates for Group 13 in the 2nd Judicial Circuit. On the ballot are Lisa Barclay Fountain, 50, David Frank, 62, and D. Christian Thurman, 40, all attorneys in Leon County.
In the tax collectors race, incumbent Rick Watson, 70, of St. George Island, appointed last year by Gov. Rick Scott to succeed Jimmy Harris, is vying against Jamie Crum, 51, of Eastpoint, for the Republican nomination.
On the Democratic side, Tami Ray-Hutchinson, 49, of Apalachicola, is running against Teresa Ann Martin, 53, of Apalachicola, who stepped down from the school board to run for the post.
The two winners will take on each other in November, joined by Connie Polous, 54, of Eastpoint, who is running without party affiliation.
Martin’s open District 3 school board seat, covering the Hill neighborhood of Apalachicola, is being fought over by Fonda Davis, Sr., 50, and Roderick Robinson, Jr., 33, with winner take all on Tuesday.
In the District 4 seat, covering the rest of Apalachicola and surrounding areas on the west side of the river, incumbent Stacy Kirvin. 55, of Apalachicola, is facing a challenge from Christy Joy Thompson, 40, of Apalachicola.
Republicans in Franklin County have no primary for the District 2 representative to Congress, with incumbent Neal Dunn facing no primary opposition.
Democrats will have to choose between former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff, 74, and Brandon Peters, 50, an attorney and mediator who lives in Williston.
On the statewide level, Governor Rick Scott is the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP primary against Rocky De La Fuente for candidate for the U.S. Senate, setting up a November contest against incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson, who is facing no primary opposition.
For governor, Republicans have to choose between eight candidates, with the contest coming down to whether GOP voters prefer Congressman Ron De Santis, endorsed by Pres. Trump, or Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, who has been endorsed by a large number of Republican county officials from across the state.
Among Democrats, the choice among seven candidates boils down to former District 2 Congresswoman Gwen Graham, real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, and real estate entrepreneur Chris King.