Clay County voter analysis in 2022 primary for statewide offices, school board races

Don Johnson

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About 25 percent of registered county voters participated in the primary election.Photo via Clay County Supervisor of Elections.

The primary election is over in Clay County with all 48 precincts reporting Tuesday night and about 25 percent of registered voters participating, according to the county’s supervisor of elections office.

In the local races, most of the surprises came in the county school board election with two incumbents losing. School board member Janice Kerekes lost her race to Erin Skipper, who was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Skipper got 54.6 percent of the vote compared to Kerekes’ 33.19 percent. A third candidate, Charles Kirk, received 12.2 percent.

District 4 school board member Tina Bullock lost in her race to Michele Hanson, who received 54.93 percent of the vote to Bullock’s 45.07 percent.

School board member Ashley Gilhousen will remain in the District 5 seat after beating Gerald Beasley with 69.39 percent of the votes to Beasley’s 30.61 percent. Gilhousen says she follows DeSantis’s lead on school policies.

DeSantis backed 30 school board candidates in the primary election statewide. More than 60 percent of those candidates were expected to win their races, according to clickorlando.com.

In statewide races, Clay County Republican voters supported Wilton Simpson in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture. Simpson received 64.15 percent of the vote compared to James Shaw’s 35.85 percent.

As most Clay County residents know, the county trends heavily in favor of the Republican Party. GOP registered voters total 87,230 compared to Democrats with 34,746 and NPA (no party affiliation) at 37,202.

The number of ballots cast by Republican voters in the agriculture commissioner race totaled 27,472.

Compare that to the top race for Democrats in the primary – determining the party’s nominee for governor. Only 8,564 registered Democrats in the county voted in the race.

Charlie Crist topped Nikki Fried for Clay County Democrat votes, getting 50.93 percent, or 4,362 votes. Fried received 42.21 percent of Clay County votes, or 3,613 votes. Crist won the party nomination statewide. He faces DeSantis in November.

In other statewide and regional races:

  • In the U.S. Senate primary race, Val Demings received 85 percent of the Clay County Democrat votes, or 7, 257 votes. She won the primary statewide and will face Sen. Marco Rubio in November.
  • In the District 4 GOP congressional primary race, state Sen. Aaron Bean received 65.56 percent of the vote in Clay County, or 18,492 votes. Bean won the GOP nomination.
  • In the District 4 Democrat congressional primary race, LaShonda Holloway received 55.67 percent of Clay County votes, or 4,633 votes. Overall, Holloway was leading former state senator Tony Hill by a narrow margin that could trigger a recount. The winner will face Bean.
  • In the Democrat primary for agriculture commissioner, Naomi Blemur got 49.4 percent of the vote, or 4,009 votes in Clay County. Blemur, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, won the primary statewide and will face Simpson in the November general election.

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Veteran journalist with experience in website and newspaper content as an editor and writer. I have worked as a reporter at newspapers and websites in Florida, California and Arkansas. I am a former executive editor at the Tampa Bay Business Journal and worked for 12 years at The Tampa Tribune as an enterprise editor and business editor. At Patch.com, I produced stories for 24 websites in the Tampa Bay area and also edited content for websites in six states.

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