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The most important races you (probably) don't know about


By now, Leon County voters should see their August 14th primary sample ballots arriving in the mail. But this year, there is an entire section of the ballot that could leave many voters—especially Democrats at a complete loss for who to vote for. These are the party office races, and it’s a section of the ballot that’s largely overlooked and left blank.

“That is really insider-baseball kind of stuff," said local Republican Activist Christian Camera. He’s talking about a section of the primary ballot labeled Party Offices. When voters open their sample ballots, they’ll see more than 20 different local races for Democrats, and two for Republicans.

While these races may be all about local party politics that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. These local committee men and women are the people behind the people. They’re the ones fundraising for local candidates and representing their neighborhoods at local party meetings. They’re knocking on doors, and distributing fliers, and local Democratic Committeewoman Alma Gonzales says their influence travels up the political ladder:

“While it may not be a governance issue right up front, like the President of the United States or a county commissioner. It is the people on the Democratic Executive committee or your Republican Executive who are making choices about who will be supported and who will eventually be elected into those critical governing positions.”

But Leon County Republican Christian Camera says finding information on these local party candidates is pretty hard to do.

“The party doesn’t really impact our daily lives unless we really take it seriously. And unless you’re a party activist you probably won’t notice who runs your party…I mean…you really have to be an activist to know what’s going on inside the party.” 

These local candidates don’t have to pay filing fees nor do they have to issue campaign finance reports. The positions are also unpaid. And many party documents are exempt from Florida’s sunshine laws. Although it’s hard to find information on the candidates, it’s not impossible. Both Camera and Gonzales say one a good way to get more information on these races, is to get more involved in local party politics.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.