JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's the battle of the Republicans over House District 15, and both candidates think they're the best one to represent it.
Business attorney and former prosecutor Paul Renner grew up a preacher's child and served in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm. He said it was his service to our country that made him want to represent our state.
"The real trigger is coming back from Afghanistan, flying home, and wondering about what life would be like," said Renner. "The things that I think matter most to us, family, church, community, were still here, but I saw our national politics going in what I believe is a really, really bad direction."
Renner said he is committed to steering the state in the right direction.
Renner's opponent is Jay Fant, a long-time businessman with strong ties to Jacksonville. Fant is a small business owner and is the former Chairman of JEA and Advisory Board Chairman of CenterState Bank. He's already personally visited 8,000 homes in the district.
"I'm driven to represent the people of the Westside. It's what I live for, " said Fant. "When I'm out there in the field, I relish the thought, 'I can go to Tallahassee and speak for these folks, and I know these folks,' and that's what I want to do."
Fant said behind most doors he knocked on are voters upset with the federal health insurance program, which he said he hopes to correct. He also wants to make Florida an easier place to start a small business.
Both candidates want to expand the port, bring more jobs to Florida and better education, including school choice. And they've made other commitments.
"I have a proposal that would encourage vets, when they come back and retire from the military, to start their businesses in Florida, and they'll get some breaks on the licensing fees to do that," said Fant.
"I think the first priority of government has got to be public safety," said Renner. "We've got to fight crime in our community, and I'm committed to doing that as well."
Speaking of fighting, the two Republicans signed clean campaign pledges, but the race has definitely gotten muddy with attack ads.
When asked about it, Fant said, "No one likes to be attacked personally in a campaign, and unfortunately the other side has decided that's their main way to approach the race. I think, philosophically, that's not the best way to do things, and I've tried to counter that by saying this is not how campaigns should be run."
"The voters are diligent and they'll figure it out and cut through all the white noise," said Renner. "But I think it really means focusing on record. And I believe that my record is the best one as a conservative. If you're a conservative voter in the district, if you want someone to fight for your values, I'm your guy."
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