John Rutherford to face Primary, General Election challenges

Gun Rights

It appears that Jacksonville’s U.S. Rep. John Rutherford will face a Primary challenge.

And if he should prevail, he will face a Democrat and a write-in in November.

Democrat Jay McGovern qualified Friday, he tells Florida Politics from Tallahassee. At this writing, the Division of Elections is processing his qualification paperwork.

McGovern has run for office before. In 2016, he lost the Democratic Primary in the old Florida’s 6th Congressional District, where he would have challenged Ron DeSantis if he had won that August. In 2020, he lost a Primary race for state House to a candidate who ended up losing to U.S. Rep. Wyman Duggan.

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Repeat candidate Gary Koniz is also running, this time as a write-in.

The district is designed for a Republican win, with more than 250,000 GOP registrants and fewer than 145,000 Democrats.

Meanwhile, to get to the three-way General Election, the former Jacksonville Sheriff has to finish business in the August Primary against a familiar foe.

Mara Macie had filed last year to run again in the Primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Duval and part of St. Johns County.

Macie was one of two Primary challengers to Rutherford in 2022. She was unsuccessful, getting 18% of the vote and finishing in a distant second place, with Rutherford taking 66% in that election. But she’s running again.

The former Sheriff and four-term legislator has every financial advantage along with his incumbency.

Earlier this month, Rutherford reported having raised $507,011 for the 2024 cycle so far, a number boosted by $143,080 brought in during Q1.

Despite having spent $78,443 this quarter, and $293,307 thus far this cycle, he still had $504,113 on hand as of the report that covered activity through March 31.

Donors of interest this quarter include the following names and more: Palmer Luckey, the founder of Anduril Industries; defense contractors Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics; the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund; the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; the National Apartment Association; the National Propane Gas Association; and the National Shooting Sports Association.

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