Common Core Foe Jay Fant Files for First Coast House Seat as Republican

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: October 4, 2013 3:55 AM

Jay Fant

Jay Fant

Business owner Jay Fant announced Thursday he will run for the Republican nomination for the Florida House seat currently held by Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville. Davis, now the chairman of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, is not seeking re-election in 2014.

“It appears to me that America is at a crossroads,” Fant said in his announcement. “Daily reports of government excess, reckless spending, and political expediency dominate our public conversation and impact us all at home and at work. We deserve better, and that’s why I’ve decided to become a candidate for state representative.

“In Florida, we have had our share of success moving the economy forward,” Fant added. “I believe we can do more. I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that Jacksonville’s entrepreneurs, small-businesses and working families have economic opportunity.”

During and interview with Sunshine State News, Fant talked about why he is running for the House seat, stressing the importance of how Florida uses its expected budgetary surplus. “I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said and he offered praise for the tax cuts proposed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The new candidate said he hoped the state government can make things easier for small businesses to launch across Florida. “My focus is small business and what it takes for the man in the street to create a new business,” he said.

Fant said he also intends to fight for better education in Florida and expressed concerns with Common Core standards. “Common Core is not the answer,” Fant insisted. “Federal initiatives and approaches are not the way to go.” He said he is optimistic about the future of the state university system, especially the University of North Florida in Jacksonville

Fant’s family has longtime roots on the First Coast. His grandfather, Julian Fant, founded First Guaranty Bank in 1947. While the bank did very well on the First Coast for many years, the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) shut down First Guaranty in early 2012. Analysts blamed a series of risky loans for the bank’s collapse. At the time First Guaranty was shut down, Jay Fant served as chairman and CEO.

Speaking with Sunshine State News, Fant said First Guaranty was hurt by the recession as small businesses could not repay loans.

“Our bank was 100 percent dependent on the small-business clients we had,” he explained. “We felt like we did everything possible. When small businesses couldn’t make it, the bank couldn’t make it.”

Fant said the federal government hurt First Guaranty and other small banks when it enacted TARP and other legislation to prop up larger banks.

“There’s nothing wrong with big banks,” he said. “There is something wrong with the government picking winners and losers.”

After the FDIC shut it down, First Guaranty’s deposits were taken over by CenterState Bank, which was looking to expand into the region. Gil Pomar, currently the North Florida president for CenterState, endorsed the new candidate Thursday.

“I’m supporting Jay because of his conservative principles and his desire to make state government smaller and more efficient,” said Pomar. “Jay is a devoted family man and I know he will take those values to the Legislature.”

Fant also won the support of former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton.

“Jay and his family have been fixtures in Jacksonville’s small-business community for decades,” Peyton said. “Jay understands our community, reflects our values, and has a strong sense of what needs to be done to bring more jobs to Northeast Florida.”

“I’m honored to have the support of local leaders who have a vision for Northeast Florida that is prosperous, safe, and rewards those who work hard,” Fant said. “With their help and yours, we will make sure that Florida is strong.”

The seat represents parts of Duval County including the west side of Jacksonville. Fant does not have an open shot at this solidly Republican seat. Facing him in the Republican primary is attorney Paul Renner, who served in the Navy during Desert Storm and was an assistant state attorney in South Florida.

Renner filed his paperwork to run for the House seat in early July and has won the backing of some of the leading Republicans on the First Coast, including Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford, a few weeks after launching his bid. Davis remains filed as an active candidate with the state Division of Elections but has said he will not run next year.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter at @KevinDerbySSN.

Comments (5)

Typical Politician
12:51PM OCT 4TH 2013
Just what we need in politics, another rich guy who sank his bank with risky lending and had to get shutdown and bailed out by the FDIC to the tune of $80+ million. He'll fit in perfectly in Tallahassee.
11:07AM OCT 4TH 2013
I have no problems with Jay Fant. He's a great leader with the small businesses in mind, and I like that. His conservative views will help small businesses move forward, and that's what we need. A good leader, conservative, and Christian.
10:51AM OCT 4TH 2013
He'll get my vote. The Fants have long been leaders in Jacksonville and I'm glad to see Jay is committed to taking conservative principles to the state legislature. Jay Fant is a friend of small businesses.
10:32AM OCT 4TH 2013
Any one againist Common Core has my support.We have too much
of the Federal government in our lives.Now they want to have our children. Like the Marxist said" get the children and you get the country"
It really doesn't look promising for the future.Get rid of the teachers union/education dept and return teaching to states and the parents
Christi Griner
10:25AM OCT 4TH 2013
I have many friends in Jacksonville who says that this guy is rock solid. A true conservative, serious Christian, and a great vision for the state of Florida. I'm looking forward to his leadership.

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