Why it’s crucial to have a candidate in every race: Tracye Polson edition

Florida Democrats* are notoriously unconcerned about filling the down-ballot with qualified candidates. Indeed, some Dem leaders (cough–Gary Farmer) are famous for discouraging new candidates from “pissing off” Republican incumbents. In 2018 and 2020, lots of folks ran in state and local races, despite having been actively discouraged or simply ignored by the state party. Very few of them won that particular race, but every single one made an impact.

There is ample evidence that, despite the “wisdom” of the Florida Dem elders, running someone in every race significantly amplifies voter turnout. In fact the New York Times ran a big article highlighting their conclusion that “losing” Congressional and state legislature races in Georgia propelled Joe Biden to victory. Most of these local candidates didn’t win, but they pulled along enough of the vote to make certain that @POTUS won enough of the non-gerrymandered statewide vote.

In Jacksonville, the fallout from the 2018 and 2020 election cycles is just starting to be felt. When former Mayor and recent sitting City Council President Tommy Hazouri died after a battle with lung cancer on 9/11/2021, a Special Election to replace him in At-Large Group 3 was announced within days, as required by the City Charter.

Friend of WUFF PAC, licensed mental health care provider Tracye Polson has already filed for the seat, and attracted a good deal of attention from the press because of the race she ran in 2018 for Florida House District 15, including a nice mention from the generally skeptical @AGGancarski

Article by A.G. Gancarski for Florida Politics

While Tracye lost that election, she forced her opponent and the Florida GOP to compete in that district for the first time in many years, and proved herself to be both an able fundraiser and an outstanding communicator. As Gancarski pointed out, they were so rattled that they raised $100K to fund attack ads against her.

Tracye lost HD 15 in 2018 by 1,200 votes, .8% of the vote. With the 40,000 registered voter advantage Democrats have in Duval, she has an excellent shot at winning this county-wide special election.

So, while it was painful for Tracye and for #TeamTracye, it mattered that she ran in 2018, and that she ran hard all the way through the tape. That Herculean effort gave Tracye the human and financial resources she will need, provided a ton of name-recognition, and made her a credible candidate for City Council.

Understanding that candidates, especially women candidates, often need to run twice to be elected, the Florida Democratic Black Women’s Consortium (www.fdbwc.org) and other formal and informal groups across Florida are working hard to fill the down-ballot with qualified candidates, whether or not they have a path in this particular election, or just need to be campaign-seasoned for a different race down the road. This is the sort of coalition and bench-building that needs to happen if we ever have a shot at putting policies in place that will positively impact Florida Families.

*While WUFF PAC is a non-partisan, issues-based organization, our issues:

are issues that require progressive solutions, and are not of interest to the ruling minority this cycle. If anyone knows of a candidate who might change our mind on this, we’d be delighted to hear about it.

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