Jay Fant Holds Off Paul Renner by Two Votes in Jacksonville GOP Primary
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On Friday, banker Jay Fant was declared the winner of the Republican primary to replace Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, in the Florida House. After the Duval County elections supervisor held a machine recount and examined ballots, Fant beat attorney and Navy veteran Paul Renner by two votes: 5,962 to 5,960.
“I have to thank my wife, my children, my family, and all my loyal supporters and volunteers who made today's victory possible,” Fant said on Friday after the recount. “I cannot say a word, however, without expressing my full and heartfelt congratulations to Paul Renner for a contest well-fought. This was a tough race in which we agreed more than we disagreed, and I want to continue to work with Paul on the priorities that we share, which include the well-being of Florida's economy and resistance to so much of the Obama agenda.
“I also want to express thanks to the faithful public servants who conducted this election, including Duval Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland, the canvassing board, and the many workers who have worked late hours these past few days,” Fant added. “I look forward to finishing strong in the general election as I prepare to serve the people of Westside Jacksonville in the Florida House of Representatives.”
For his part, Renner offered Fant kind words on Friday.
“I want to congratulate Jay Fant on winning a hard fought campaign and wish him every success in the state Legislature,” Renner said. “Having grown up in Jacksonville and spent years in public service, both as a naval officer and a criminal prosecutor, I will continue to look for opportunities to serve our great community. I especially want to thank the hundreds of supporters who worked tirelessly on behalf of our campaign. They can all take pride in their efforts, and I look forward to serving with them in the future to strengthen our community.”
After Tuesday’s primary, Fant clung to a narrow lead which dwindled as the week went on. At the start of day on Friday, Fant was up by three votes.
Renner, who has been active with the GOP in Jacksonville, had the support of some of the leading Republicans on the First Coast, including U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., Florida Sen. John Thrasher, Davis and Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford. The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, which Davis leads, also backed Renner. So did the Associated Industries of Florida.
But Fant had some key endorsements of his own from the likes of Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, the Florida Retail Federation, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida
Fant faces two write-in candidates in November. The Democrats did not field a candidate in the district which represents parts of Duval County and is strongly Republican. Davis did not seek another term to focus on leading the Jacksonville Chamber.
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