Cover Photo Credit: www.orlandosentinel.com
By Denise Uy
On August 28th, a handful of Nease students were able to take their first few steps in American politics—as those who were eligible to vote were able to directly participate in American democracy for the first time in this year’s primary season. This year, Florida’s political atmosphere is in full-swing as the state prepares to elect a new governor in November, with former Governor Rick Scott (R) becoming ineligible to serve another term. Along with the gubernatorial election, Florida prepares to routinely elect representatives for its twenty-seven congressional districts and one available Senate seat for the federal government’s midterm elections.
Though previously serving as governor, candidate Rick Scott was able to cinch his spot as the Republican nominee for the open Florida Senate seat—doing so with over 88% of the votes. In November, he will face off against incumbent Bill Nelson (D), who ran unopposed within the Florida Democratic Party, having served in the Senate since 2001.
The 2018 Florida gubernatorial race made history this year as the former Mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum (D), became the first African-American nominee for Florida governor. Gillum won the Democratic party’s nomination as he secured a little over 34% of the votes, facing off in a close race with fellow nominee Gwen Graham—losing her party’s nomination with only 31% of Democratic votes. Due to Florida state law, a Florida governor may only serve for two consecutive four-year terms. Thus, while Rick Scott makes his campaign for the Senate, the former representative of Florida’s 6th congressional district, Ron DeSantis (R), won his party’s nomination with over half of the votes.
Most Nease students live within Florida’s 4th congressional district, which constitutes most of Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns County. In the 2016 congressional election, John Rutherford won this district with 42.6% of the votes and runs again unopposed for the Republican Party as the incumbent—pitting himself up against political newcomer Ges Selmont (D) in November.
Though many Nease students are ineligible to vote due to their age, a few have been able to make waves in politics through activism or some other indirect form of political participation. Nease IB senior Ajay Sarma, who currently serves as the chairman of Florida High School Democrats, looks forward to voting in the next presidential election: “I’m excited to vote in the future because as a citizen, your vote is how you let the government know how you feel it should behave as an institution.” When asked why political participation matters to him, especially as a teenager, he replies that “it is important to me as a young person, because this is ultimately the country I’m going to inherit in a few years.” Though Ajay finds himself in the same position as many seniors, months shy of being able to vote in their first election, he looks forward to involving himself politically through other ways in the meantime.