From the Comments: The Anti-Pagan Florida Democrat

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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.