Chuck Clemons, the current State Representative for District 21, launched his 2020 re-election campaign with an event in Newberry on October 8. Several hundred supporters showed up to listen to Nicholas and Aidan Messina’s “twin fiddle” music, eat BBQ, and listen to endorsements from local and state-level elected officials.
Clemons was first elected in 2016 and currently serves as Chair of the Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee and as a member of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Commerce Committee, Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, and Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee. His main issues are education (he has fought for increased education funding and currently works as a Vice President at Santa Fe College), agriculture (he grew up on a chicken farm and understands the importance of agriculture as an industry in Florida), jobs (reducing regulations and lowering taxes), and the environment (he is a strong proponent of protecting our springs).
Clemons was frequently praised by the other speakers for his accessibility—in his remarks, he said half the people in the room had his cell phone and had used it multiple times; many in the audience nodded and smiled in agreement. He was endorsed by the mayor of Fanning Springs, Newberry City Commissioner Tim Marden, Alachua Vice-Mayor Dayna Miller and Mayor Gib Coerper, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz, District 10 Representative Chuck Brannan, District 19 Representative Bobby Payne, District 24 Representative Paul Renner, and Joe Gruters, the Chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
One of Clemons’s messages during the campaign will be that low taxes keep the economy strong. He said that Florida is growing at the rate of a “new Orlando every year” because people are fleeing states with higher taxes. For example, New York’s state population is roughly equivalent to Florida’s (19.54 million in NY vs 21.3 million in FL), but Florida’s budget is $91.1 million and New York’s is $177 million, nearly twice Florida’s budget. Clemons said the challenge is to persuade all those new residents to not vote for the policies that caused them to leave New York and other high-tax states.
Clemons has already drawn one opponent, Democrat Kayser Enneking, who narrowly lost the State Senate race to Keith Perry in 2018.