Jackson County makes history, electing two Republicans to county commission
Local historian Dale Cox says this is the first time a Republican has won election to the Jackson County commission since Reconstruction. Two members of the GOP won Tuesday in the General election with a voter turnout of 54.32 percent, up dramatically from the poor 31.24 percent showing in the Primary. In his second run for the Jackson County Commission District 2 seat, Republican Clint Pate defeated incumbent Ed Crutchfield, a Democrat, by a razor thin margin of just 40 votes--1,650 to 1,610. Moreover, as the nation voted Republican Tuesday, so did the voters in the end-to-end southern portion of Jackson County, electing Republican Eric Hill over Alvin Roberts for the county commission District 4 seat being vacated by Jeremy Branch, a Democrat who did not seek reelection. Roberts had been leading the race since winning the Primary in August, easily defeating another Democrat. Hill defeated Roberts on Tuesday, November 4, by 1,772 to 1,271.
Roberts had expressed concerns last month that running as a Democrat may cost him in the end.
Could this be the start of a trend towards more Republican participation in the elected offices of Jackson County? The Jackson County Republican Executive Committee hopes so. “This means the barrier in Jackson County has been broken,” Pate told the Jackson County TIMES after the election. Pate happens to be the executive committee chairman; he also is an assistant secretary of the Republican Party of Florida (RPF). “It was a great night for the party Tuesday night. Not only was the first Republican elected to a constitutional office, there were two elected. A candidate can be elected in the Party with the same beliefs that so many in Jackson County hold.”
There are 16,806 registered Democrats in Jackson County and 8,434 registered Republicans, although Jackson County usually votes Republican in the statewide and national races. Local voters easily helped carry to victory Republicans Rick Scott, the governor; Pam Bondi, the attorney general; District 5 State Rep. Brad Drake; Jeff Atwater, the state’s chief financial officer; and Adam Putnam, commissioner of agriculture. They chose incumbent Republican US House Rep. Steve Southerland by a wide margin, but Southerland lost the district-wide election to Democrat Gwen Graham.
The TIMES also reached Republican executive committee member Jim Peacock for comment Wednesday morning. “I would like to congratulate Clint and Eric on winning the first Republican constitutional offices in Jackson County,” Peacock said. He also is a state Republican committeeman. “Traditionally, the citizens of Jackson County have voted for Republicans in state and national elections and now we have finally seen the shift in our locally held offices. Our goal is to see the conservative values that most of our local citizens hold reflected in the change of party registration and getting additional qualified individuals to run for elected office as Republicans.”
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