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    Thomas Ford and Aaron Bell, who won the District 4 and District 2 seats on the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, greet motorists and voters in front of the Atlantic Rec Center precinct in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, which was primary election day in Florida. The candidates said they arrived outside the polling place at 7 a.m., hoping to snag votes before the polls closed at 7 p.m. Julia Roberts/News-Leader

Nassau County primary turnout only 31 percent

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Andrew Gillum's win over Gwen Graham in the Democratic Party primary to be the nominee for Florida governor.


As unofficial early election results for Nassau County were posted Tuesday evening, it was clear that Nassau County’s voters had responded less than enthusiastically to the call to vote in Florida’s primary election. The unofficial number of voters who cast ballots by mail, early, and in person was 20,414 or 31 percent of registered voters, according to the Supervisor of Elections’ website. Provisional ballots still needed to be counted as of 8:30 p.m.

In the universal race for the District 2 seat on the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, businessman Aaron Bell won with 56.67 percent of the returns over real estate agent Dawn Hagel with 43.33 percent in the unofficial results. All registered voters in Nassau County were eligible to vote in that contest because both candidates are Republicans.

In the closed primary race for the District 4 seat on the BOCC, incumbent George Spicer lost a close race to opponent Thomas Ford, who won with 51.34 percent of the unofficial vote tally. Ford will appear on the election ballot on Nov. 6 because a write-in candidate, William “Bill” Kruse, also qualified to run for the seat in November.

In the races to be the Republican candidates for state representative, District 11, and state senator, District 4, this fall, early returns showed state Rep. Cord Byrd with 57.92 percent of the votes in Nassau County to challenger Joe Zimmerman’s 42.08 percent in unofficial results. State Sen. Aaron Bean trounced challenger Carlos Slay by 83.7 percent to 16.3 percent.

Bean will face off against Democratic Party candidate Billee Bussard on the November ballot. Bussard is a former journalist and business owner from Jacksonville. Byrd will run against Democrat Nathcelly Rohrbaugh, a long-time Fernandina Beach resident, on the general election ballot in November.

Maureen T. Horkan had an early 5-percent lead over Charles McBurney in the race to be the Group 18 judge on the 4th Judicial Circuit Court. The court serves Nassau, Duval and Clay counties.

In the non-partisan races for two seats on the Nassau County School Board, Donna Martin kept her District 1 seat from going to former Fernandina Beach mayor Robin Lentz, but newcomer Lissa Braddock edged out incumbent Jonathan Petree in the race for the District 5 seat. Braddock resigned her seat on the Ocean Highway and Port Authority to run.

In the local Universal Primary Contests for seats on the OHPA, challenger Scott Hanna squeaked by current board chairman Adam Salzburg in a tight race for the District 3 seat; incumbent Carrol Franklin beat opponent Jeanne Scott for the District 4 seat; and Mike Cole overcame John Van Delinder for the District 5 seat by a wide margin.

All registered voters in the county were eligible to vote in those contests because all the candidates are Republicans.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott cruised into the November mid-term race against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by dealing a crushing blow to rival Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente. The unofficial tally in Nassau County had Scott ahead by almost 90 percent in the count of mail-in votes and a partial count of early votes.

In the gubernatorial primaries, early returns for Nassau County only showed Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis ahead at 56.07 percent to Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam’s 38.64 percent in the GOP race. DeSantis will face off with Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum in the general election. Gillum came from behind to beat front-runner Gwen Graham in a close race.

In the race to be the Democrats’ candidate in November for Attorney General of Florida, Sean Shaw beat Ryan Torrens. In the GOP contest to be the candidate for AG this fall, Ashley Moody was edging Frank White in the unofficial results.

Democrats in Nassau County went for Nicole “Nikki” Fried to be their candidate for Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture on the November ballot, and Baxter Troutman was given the nod by Republican voters in Nassau County to be their candidate.

All the results remain unofficial as of Tuesday’s press deadline.


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