From the Comments: The Anti-Pagan Florida Democrat

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 28, 2011 — 7 Comments

My post on Wednesday talking about the anti-Pagan bigotry of Jacksonville, Florida City Council candidate Kimberly Daniels has sparked quite a bit of shock, outrage, and discussion. One reoccurring question is how did Daniels end up on the Democratic ticket, and make it to a run-off, when she held rather retrograde views on gays and non-Christians.

“Is this one of those districts that always votes Republican and the only reason the election is close is because this particular Democrat is a wing-nut and is actually pulling voters from the right of a more main-stream republican candidate? Or is there a viable democratic party that swings this way regularly? Putting it another way, is this a fluke for the region, or a trend? Some context would be lovely.”

Providing that context is Brandi S., a Jacksonville resident and Pagan who initially voted for Daniels.

“She’s running in an At-Large City Council race, which is city-wide. While there are more registered Democrats in Jax than there are Republicans, the initial race was 76% Republican candidates to just 16% Democratic candidates and 8% running with No Party Affiliation. Daniels was one of just 10 Democrats running in the first election in March. Two Democrats won their races decisively in the initial election (one of whom ran as a fiscal conservative and one of whom ran in a contest where his only opponent was another Democrat in what I presume is the city’s sole liberal voting precinct). Most races in the March election had multiple candidates, so 40% or more of the vote was required to win decisively, and there were run-offs in 8 different races city-wide. TWO of those races have Democratic candidates – the mayoral race, with a candidate who has major Democratic endorsements, and the At-Large Group 1 race, which is the race Kimberly Daniels is running in.

She got enough of the vote to make it through to the run-offs (including, admittedly, mine, as I knew that she was religious but had no idea about her bigotry, hatred, and ignorance at the time of the election), and her opponent is a Republican running on a slogan of Faith * Family * Fiscal Responsibility, so he is definitely a more mainstream Republican capable of getting the Republican votes. Jacksonville has a large African-American population which may swing the vote in Daniels’ direction because she is one of the few African-American candidates running, and the issues she talks about in interviews and on her webpage are things like tackling substance abuse, which is a big problem in Jacksonville, plus she’s a military veteran in a heavily military town, and Jacksonville also has a very disenfranchised Democratic voter base who may not know all of this about her radically right-wing religious views (as I did not until last week – I knew only that she was a church pastor but not what that particular church preached) or may not care simply because she’s one of the only Democrats running in a heavily Republican city, so she may actually stand a chance of winning on that basis alone. I won’t be voting for her this time around, but I won’t be voting for her opponent either. In fact, I’ll be leaving every race on my ballot blank except the mayoral race because there are no candidates in the other races that I can even think of voting for in good conscience.

However, other Jacksonville voters may not feel the same way. Religious views and church participation factor in heavily in Jacksonville elections, and nearly every single candidate is using his or her religion as a selling point in their bid for election. Also, despite having more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, the votes go overwhelmingly to the Republican candidates (and the fact that there are almost nothing BUT Republican candidates running in most races probably helps with that as well). I moved away from Jacksonville for 16 1/2 years after graduating from high school and only recently returned to help care for my elderly grandmother, but I would never, ever choose to live here again for any other reason than that because it feels like being stuck in a time-warp between the pre-Civil Rights-era 1950s and a heavily Republican and Tea Party-influenced present.

As to your first question about how she became the democratic candidate, I honestly don’t know. There was another Democrat running as a fiscal conservative in another local race who won his election decisively in March and I would never have considered him a Democrat based on his running platform and I wrote the local Democratic Party to complain about how few Democrats were running in the first place, and the fact that those that were included conservatives who should have more rightly been running on the Republican ticket. I never got a response, so I never found out quite how this was allowed to happen, but my guess is that candidates just had to file to run – they didn’t necessarily need their party’s endorsement to run as a member of that party. It probably helps, as with the mayoral candidate, but it can’t possibly be a requirement with candidates like this running on the Democratic ticket.”

Thanks to Brandi for providing some context on this election.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    "All politics is local."

  • annonymous

    This is depressing…As aware of reality as I am I was quite hoping on the optimistic side that maybe she wouldn't stand a snowballs chance in hell of winning because you know people are smart and CARE…but yea REALITY CHECK!

  • Apuleius

    Daniels seems a lot less extreme when you compare her to other very conservative southern Dems, although it would be going too far to say that she is a typical "blue-dog" Democrat. (Many blue-dogs rode to office on the coat-tails of Barack Obama in 2008, and many of them then proceeded to get their butts kicked in 2010).

    Take Dan Boren, please. This fine fellow is an infamous anti-environmentalist, a supporter of the Iraq war, an opponent of universal health care, and a proud co-sponsor of the 2011 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (that's the one that only provides an exception for abortion in the case of "forcible" rape, you know, as opposed to the unforcible kind of rape). Oh, and he is also a Democrat representing Oklahoma's second congressional district.

    But not all blue-dogs are, well, whatever it is that Dan Boren is. Gabrielle Giffords is pro-choice, a strong supporter of renewable and alternative energy and she voted for the economic stimulus and health-care reform (which led to her being "targeted" by Sarah Palin). But she is still very "moderate" and "fiscally conservative" Democrat and she has also been the target of sometimes harsh criticism by progressives in her own party.

  • @LionessFeathers

    Florida is getting to be an unsafe place to be of minority faith. With people like Rick Scott putting pro-christian adoption only advocates like David Wilkins to the head of the Department of Children and Families, the bill boards that were running in Tampa from "The Community Issues Council" denouncing separation of church and state, SRJ 1218 – the "Religious Freedom Bill" – which removes the states constitutional provision that prevents the spending of tax dollars on religious organizations under the guise that prohibiting government from funding religious groups is discrimination against the religious, people like Terry Jones running amok, and the corporate backed defunding of public schools in favor of private vouchers for religious education private schools it's truly becoming a terrifying state for nonchristians to live in regardless of what other faith you may be.

    I was born and raised in a very red part of the state. I'm aware that Florida has always leaned to the right, sometimes very hard to the right. But I cannot at any point remember such blatant, outright hate for anything nonchristian being promoted as though it were perfectly normal and completely appropriate occurring here as it is at this time. My family and I are making plans to leave as soon as we can. It almost feels like we're being forced out to a degree. I'm disturbed and saddened by what is being passed off as "for the good of all". It certainly isn't good for anyone who isn't "the majority".

  • Brandi_S

    Unfortunately, unless people are reading news sites like this one, they may not learn this information about her. It's only in the past week or so that this has become an important issue in the news with regard to her campaign, and I only just found out about it last week myself. The local newspaper website did have an article that was published on April 21st which talks about her extreme religious views and the criticism they've drawn specifically from a group associated with People for the American Way and from Truth Wins Out, an LGBT news blog, but it's equally negative toward the Republican candidate, so it doesn't really work in either's favor. However, maybe it will sway some of the votes against her from people who feel really strongly about the social issues in question. I wish it wasn't so, but chances are she could still win. And my choices are a Republican lawyer with ethics charges looming against him, or a "Democrat" with views somewhere to the right of Sarah Palin. Ah the joys of being a Jacksonville voter.

  • embreis

    In my experience, rural Blacks in the South may be "liberal" on economic issues, but their opinions on social/religious issues are just as conservative as their white neighbors'. Much of what this woman says would get an "amen" in the West Georgia churches I'm familiar with. (Maybe not the criticism of Obama, who is considered a symbol of racial pride regardless of his actual policies).
    But rural Black Christians, conservative as their religious views may be, have never been as angry as White fundamentalists about things like abortion rights, gay rights and rights for religious minorities, and these issues have been less politically important to them.
    There are probably four main reasons for this: 1. Blacks can't help but notice that there's a lot of thinly-veiled racial appeal in the rhetoric of White conservatives; 2. Blacks have good reason to distrust any political rhetoric that demonizes a minority; 3. Historically, Blacks have recognized that groups they don't necessarily approve of — gay rights advocates, pro-choice feminists, secular humanists — have been their political allies on issues that matter to them, like voting rights and school funding, while White Christian conservatives haven't been; and fourthly, rural blacks tend to be less interested in issues like gay rights and abortion rights because they think of them as crazy white people issues.
    Daniels might be an anomaly, but she might also be sign of changes in the political landscape: a Black politician who doesn't remember the Civil Rights struggle and the political alliances associated with it.

  • KarenAScofield

    It's not just a Florida problem.

    What happened to civil rights in this nation? It took too long to get rid of slavery, get women the right to vote, and get "the" (that's a loaded "the" …!) civil rights movement **rolling** in the U.S and yet it's, even now, not usual for people to run for political office as if it's the territory of Christian pastors/reverends/ministers, or people very close to their pastor…even if a candidate practically foams at the mouth with loving hate toward other religions and claims their church members saw people turn into animals, really. Because the supposed shapeshifters were the wrong religion? Pagans. Dirty filthy Pagans. Wow.

    Liars. Liars for Jesus.

    This is rather **raw** The Forces of Good™ vs. The Forces of Evil™ dualism, in her case and her area, but it is the undercurrent of American politics today too…and yet its constant companions are prejudice, purposeful ignorance, ineptitude, corruption, inequality, and culture/class war. Not things to hug close when the economic or any other chips are down! Or ever!

    Civil rights is a job never done. Shame that portions of the population that you'd think would see this the clearest are often most blind to the old balls and chains they unwittingly drag in and willfully shackle themselves to…