Race for US House seat being vacated by Crenshaw in Florida 4 has commonalities with presidential race

Lake Ray

Lake Ray (on right) knocked on doors in North Florida yesterday. Ray is running in the GOP Primary, hoping to win the seat being vacated by Rep. Ander Crenshaw in US House Dist. 4. (Photo: Day on the Day)

Yesterday afternoon we had a surprise visitor. Lake Ray, who hopes to represent the 4th district for Florida in the US House, strolled up to talk to us.

I have to hand it to Mr. Ray. Any candidate braving the storm we had yesterday to knock on doors is dedicated.

As we talked, it occurred to me this House race has commonalities with the presidential race on both sides of the aisle. It also occurred to me that in this race, Republicans are luckier than Democrats if you look at the candidate field.

As Ray walked up the drive, I recognized him from various Republican get-togethers and meetings. He’s a friendly man, easy to talk to. Ray has experience in both the small business and public service sectors. He’s owned and managed engineering firms and he’s also served in the Florida Legislature. President of the First Coast Manufacturers Association, Ray also serves on the board of the Manufacturers Association of Florida. It’s easy to see how Ray could fit well into a Congress with President Donald Trump at the helm in the Executive Branch because both men are making jobs and manufacturing priorities in their campaigns.

Ray knows it’s critical to enable jobs in the US, and to restore the military. Ray’s platform is common-sense conservatism.

The congressional race attracted an abundance of candidates just as the presidential primary did. There are seven Republicans in the primary race, a crowded field for a seat like this. There’s one Democrat, and two others from lesser known or no parties. Ray has two serious challengers for a seat that will more than likely remain in GOP hands.

Also running in the GOP primary are former Jacksonville sheriff John Rutherford and Hans Tanzler, who has experience in both the public and the private sector. Rutherford is the frontrunner at present, based on one poll. It’s hard to find polls for these type races, so you come up short on comparatives.

The only recent poll on the Republican Primary I could find was conducted June 28-29 by the University of North Florida.  UNF polled 403 registered Republican Likely Voters

At first glance, it looks like Rutherford could run away with the nomination.

Rutherford has a substantial amount of money raised; so does Tanzler. Those are the only two candidates I could find any financial information on because all of them haven’t filed it yet. We know about Rutherford and Tanzler’s fundraising from preliminary reports the campaigns provided. Both men have already run TV ads.

In the UNF poll, Rutherford is at the top with 27 percent, Tanzler is in second with 13 percent, and Ray is in third place with 9 percent. What is remarkable is that 46 percent of the people surveyed hadn’t made up their minds yet.

The primary is August 30; early voting will begin prior to that.

If you look at a breakdown of the three counties Dist. 4 comprises, that’s where things get interesting. In the affluent county of St. John’s, 63 percent haven’t made up their minds. In Nassau, 52 percent remain undecided. In Duval, Rutherford’s strongest county, the former sheriff gets 30 percent.

Ray and Tanzler poll fairly close to each other, so the challenge for both those candidates is parity with the name recognition a popular sheriff with an impressive record has.

Tanzler has presented himself as somewhat of an outsider, but much of his career as an attorney was tied to government in some form. It’s interesting that Tanzler’s father, a Democrat, was once mayor of Jacksonville and is credited for the consolidation that made the city reportedly the largest in land area in the contiguous USA. You try driving here for a week, and you won’t doubt that claim.

Rutherford has strength in law enforcement and keeping order, and he’s run a large government entity. It’s easy to see how his assets would benefit national security. Rutherford is deliberative in his conversational style, and he has a military sort of bearing.

Ray, as I said, is a very easy guy to talk to. In campaign materials, he says as a small business owner, he can “understand the challenges of raising a family and making payroll.” He said as state representative, he “secured more than $38 million for the Jaxport Mile Point project” that supports 3,500 area jobs. He said he also helped pass legislation “that cut taxes by more than $1 billion over two years.”

I’ve met both Rutherford and Ray; I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any of the others. I liked Rutherford as our sheriff and I like Ray. I hope we’ll have substantive debates so we can learn more about all these candidates.

I think there’s another plus for Ray. Crenshaw held very influential positions on key appropriations and armed services committees. He knew how to look out for the district in terms of working within a legislative body, and a commitment to the military in this area is absolutely vital. Crenshaw’s shoes are big ones to fill.

Ray seemed to be having a good time yesterday afternoon, and as I always do, I enjoyed talking politics. Whatever the outcome, Republicans are lucky all around because we have viable choices.

In this US House race, there’s another commonality with the presidential election. There’s only one Democrat in the race. He comes off as a leftist extremist who would probably never meet a tax he didn’t like and thinks government run healthcare is the way to go. His campaign site recounts his last minute filing to run. I wouldn’t count on an upset here in North Florida for that seat if I was a Dem.

I should explain I always believed there was only one candidate in the Dems’ field for president because I never took Bernie Sanders seriously. In my opinion, partly because of the way Dems structure their special delegates’ power, Hillary Clinton had the Dem presidential nomination wrapped up before she even declared.

At present, the House race frontrunner technically isn’t even a person—the ‘undecided’ choice made by 46 percent of those surveyed.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 13, 2016)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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One Response to Race for US House seat being vacated by Crenshaw in Florida 4 has commonalities with presidential race

  1. Pingback: Florida briefs: Hat tip to Scott as packed field vies for House seat and poll favors Rubio for Senate | DAY ON THE DAY

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