Small Business Council receives election update


The current election cycle will be the most expensive in Florida’s history, the government relations manager for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce said last week.

At a Sept. 27 meeting of the chamber’s Small Business Council, Government Relations Manager Bob Porter provided attendees with an update on the election races at the local, state and national level.

“Tip O’Neill famously said ‘All politics is local’ and this year we’re really seeing that’s true,” Porter said. “The presidential race is more about personalities than public policy.”

This election is unusual, Porter said, because not only is Florida a presidential swing state but every state representative and state senator is up for re-election, making it the most expensive election cycle in state history.

Porter noted that local state Rep. Paul Renner has already begun campaigning to become Speaker of the House in 2022.

“Northeast Florida lost a lot of experience and seniority when we lost (former speaker and senator) John Thrasher to FSU,” Porter said.

In the race for U.S. Senate, he added, incumbent Marco Rubio is running neck and neck with Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy while a third-party candidate is polling in the double digits.

“(Third party candidates) don’t poll that high unless the voters are sending a message that they’re unhappy with the major party candidates,” he said.

Local politics

For the first time, St. Johns County will have two U.S. representatives in congress following the redistricting that moved the northern party of the county from District 6 to District 4. Unlike many locals, however, Porter thinks that’s a good thing.

“The only thing better than having one member of Congress is having two you can go to to ask for stuff,” Porter said. “I look at it as a great opportunity to continue the county’s influence when it comes to bringing the bacon back home.”

Porter encouraged residents to pay attention to what goes on at the local level, including the Board of County Commissioners and St. Augustine City Commission.

“Attend some meetings and campaign events between now and Election Day and start asking some tough questions of the candidates.”

He noted that the chamber had advocated against significant increases in city service fees, and plans to get more involved in “pocketbook issues,” particularly after the distraction of the election season is over.

“I plan on raising a glass November 9 when this whole thing is over,” he said, “and getting back to business.”