Aftermath of FL primary: One candidate narrowly wins after recounts; another won’t accept defeat

By: - August 29, 2022 4:18 pm

State Rep. Webster Barnaby speaks at an anti-abortion rally on the steps of the Historic Florida Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

In the recent primary elections, two GOP races in Central Florida were neck and neck, with one candidate pulling off a narrow win in the state House after recounts and another refusing to concede a Congressional race.

State Rep. Webster Barnaby, known for filing a Texas-style six-week abortion ban that died in the Florida Legislature, defeated his colleague, state Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, after the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections conducted a machine recount for that district.

Barnaby barely won the race by 31 votes over Fetterhoff, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections and the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections office. Overall, he had received about 50.1 percent of the vote, while Fetterhoff received 49.9 percent.

Barnaby will face unopposed Democrat Rick Karl, former director of the Daytona Beach International Airport, in the November elections.

“I am honored to have the support of so many and look forward to representing all of Western Volusia County as we work to keep Florida free,” Barnaby said in a Facebook post Saturday. “Our God-given freedom, access to opportunity and the American Dream are at stake in November, and I will not back down in this fight.”

Both candidates represented parts of Volusia, but redistricting in the state House had cast them in the same district. According to the Florida House, Fetterhoff serves as the vice chair of the Insurance and Banking subcommittee, among other roles.

“While this campaign for House District 29 was not as successful as we hoped, I can promise you that I will continue to advocate and work hard to improve the quality of life we enjoy here in Volusia County in whatever capacity God has in store for me next,” Fetterhoff said in a Facebook post Saturday.

“The opportunity to serve our community in House District 26 for the last four years has been a humbling experience and I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish.”

State Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff. Credit: FL House of Representatives.

In addition, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported this weekend that “Fetterhoff said she is preparing a complaint against Barnaby, who she said was ‘intimidating’ voters at polling places by violating the no-solicitation boundary and chatting them up.”

The News-Journal added: “State law requires candidates and campaigners to stand no closer than 150 feet from the polling place while making final appeals to voters. Senate Bill 90, addressing election security and passed by Republicans in the Legislature in 2021, extended that boundary from 100 to 150 feet. Fetterhoff said Barnaby disregarded that law both at the early voting site at The Center in Deltona and on election day at the Sanborn Center in DeLand.”

Meanwhile, another GOP candidate denied election results showing she’d lost in a Congressional race in Central Florida.

Laura Loomer, who had run against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, refused to concede in Congressional District 11, according to several news reports and Loomer’s message posted on a social platform. On her campaign website, Loomer described herself as a “Conservative investigative journalist and activist.”

State election results showed that Loomer had won nearly 44 percent of the vote, while Webster won around 51 percent.

Loomer suggested baseless claims of voter fraud in the election, and posted disparaging messages about Webster, a former Florida House Speaker serving as “the first Republican Speaker in 122 years,” according to his campaign website.

“Daniel Webster is illegitimate, and my team and I will work to drive him into the ground every step of the way until he collapses in disgrace (or poor health) and resigns like he should have years ago,” Loomer said in a post on Telegram.

“The congressional seat in Florida’s 11th District is mine for the taking. And I will be the Congresswoman from Florida’s 11th District.”

She added: “I actually am the Congresswoman in Florida’s 11th District, and everyone knows it. I’m not going anywhere except Washington DC. Florida’s 11th District is my home and I am going to keep fighting for the people here who have zero representation thanks to the feckless GOP establishment and voter fraud.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

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