The 2018 local elections have set a county record for most qualified candidates in a midterm year. There are 55 people in the running.
It’s the continuation of an apparent trend. The 2016 elections had the draw of a presidential race, and saw more candidates qualify for Leon County races than ever before – a total of 57 that year. County election supervisor Mark Earley attributes that to two factors:
“In 2016 there were a lot of incumbents retiring. And that opened up those seats for a lot of perspective people not to have to battle the incumbent,” Earley said, adding the same can be said for this year. Then, there’s the headlines:
“Certainly there’s been a lot of controversy in the news, and I think that certainly lends itself to having more candidates,” Earley said. “I think people want to make things better.”
Leon’s Republican Chairman Evan Power says many of those headlines had to do with an ongoing FBI probe into city leadership.
“With the FBI investigation of the City and the CRA, I think a lot of people kind of looked around the room and said they want new leadership,” Power said.
Power says more people jumping into local races is a breath of fresh air. And he predicts it may result in a political shift to the center.
“I think what you’re going to see on the City Commission, with the type of candidates that are running because it’s non-partisan, is I think it’s going to move a little more toward the center,” Power said.
The last two election cycles both saw 71 candidates file to run. That’s the highest number in at least 20 years.
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