As most active local candidates complete qualifying for the 2016 Primary and General Election, the first surprise candidate appears to run as a write-in and there are still two and a half days left before the filing period is closed.
St Johns County Commissioner (R) Bill McClure decided not to seek re-election for Seat 3, opting to make his bid for Congress. This created an open seat that drew two Republican contenders; former St Johns County Assistant Administrator Jerry Cameron and St Augustine businessman Paul Waldron, until today.
If on Friday at 12:00 noon, the situation had remained unchanged, with only two candidates declared and now qualified, both being Republicans, the Election would have been decided in August in a “Universal Primary” or “Open Primary” where voters of all parties would cast their ballot. The highest vote-getter would win. But, not now.
Now the county taxpayers are burdened with the cost of two separate elections – a CLOSED Primary Election in August where only Republican voters will be allowed to vote for one of the two Republican candidates, Cameron or Waldron, with the Republican winner going on to face “a blank line” in November.
And, given the war chest approaching $200,000 between the Republican candidates, $128,125 for Cameron and $45,420 for Waldron, experience tells us that either one of them will have better name recognition with voters going to the polls, than 27-year-old “Sheamus John McNeeley”, who, incidentally, is also a registered Republican. He is president of Ancient City Solutions registered at his home address in St Augustine South. He says it’s a campaign consulting firm. He’s single, and a nine-year member of the Army National Guard. He says he’s lived in both St. Johns and Flagler counties.
What do you think the likelihood is that more voters will remember to write the name “Sheamus John McNeeley” on their ballot, by hand, than will simply color in the circle next to either Mr. Cameron or Mr. Waldron’s name which will be printed on the ballot for them?
We have never had a St Johns County Commissioner elected by write-in ballot in more than one hundred years that voting records are available. With an annual salary of about $70,000 plus benefits in the balance, don’t expect that record to be broken anytime soon.
Now will be the time that St Johns County’s 39,619 registered Democrats, 33,507 registered voters with no party affiliation, and 5,085 voters registered with minor parties, will start screaming that they have been “disenfranchised” and that St Johns County’s elections are being manipulated by powerful men standing behind the emerald curtain.