‘A very contentious election:’ inside the race for FL Senate District 3

Florida District 3 race preview
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In eight weeks, Floridians will flock to the polls for a highly anticipated midterm election.

While much of the focus is on the race for governor and U.S. Senate, a North Florida State Senate contest is already capturing a lot of attention.

Redistricting forced State Senator Loranne Ausley to run for reelection just two years after taking office, and as of this June, must get past Republican challenger Corey Simon to serve another four years.

Democratic Data Analyst Matthew Isbell told WCTV it will be " a very contentious election.”

Because Suwannee, Dixie, and Lafayette Counties are now in her district, Ausley must win over a darker red group of voters.

Simon told WCTV he is running for office because he believes you have to “be the change you want to see.”

Simon became a household name in Tallahassee after playing for Bobby Bowden at FSU. His football career reached a pinnacle with a Super Bowl Championship as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

But he says he will look beyond his football background, to his time growing up with a single mother in South Florida, during the campaign.

“I think I bring a unique approach to governing because I understand the struggling family,” he said.

Ausley spent 12 years in the Florida House before serving the last two years in the Senate. She said her Big Bend roots have guided her as a legislator.

“I was born and raised here and decided to raise my family here.” she said.

“And every day I wake up and make sure we’re trying to make this community a better place.”

Isbell said Ausley’s campaign should be “nervous” about how voters perceive Simon. Most of Simon’s campaign ads have focused on the Garnet and Gold, instead of the Republican Red.

“They can’t let Corey Simon be viewed as anything but a generic republican,” Isbell said. “If he’s viewed as someone with strong local ties, it could really doom them.”

So far, Ausley’s messaging has focused on her track record. She told WCTV her proudest work is on expanding broadband.

“We know today that high speed internet isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” she said.

Simon said he wants to beef up trades instruction for graduating high schoolers. He wants to make it clear, there are other options than a college degree.

“Understanding that there’s not just one way to success,” he said.

Both candidates told WCTV they weren’t interested in running a negative race. Time will tell if the big spending on TV ads veers into the muck.

Isbell predicts viewers may experience political ad “burnout” from the race, yet another sign November is just weeks away.