|L to R: Michael Hartman and Jim Barfield|
It is safe to say that the Brevard County Commission District 2 race has settled into a typical Republican primary battle –the “conservative” versus the “establishment.”
Last week, Michael Hartman won the Tea Party gathering straw poll with 60% of the vote. If it had been a fight, they would have stopped it. No one else was really close. Advantage - Hartman.
And, so far, Jim Barfield is winning the money race. He has raised over $45,000 – with $25,000 coming from his own bank account as a loan. That’s still a net of $20,000. Pretty impressive at this stage. At first glance, Hartman looks impressive too with about $38,000 raised. However, almost $35,000 of that is personal loans. Advantage – Barfield.
And it is easy to further identify Barfield as the “establishment” guy by looking at who has donated to his campaign. Many are from the Chamber of Commerce/United Way/EDC crowd – names like Baugher, Hermansen, Bjerning, Hobbs, Byron, Proctor, Hoyman, Swann, Podnos, McLouth, Bakke, Kabboard, Bancroft, Rood, and Weldon. If you look at the society pages in local publications, you know who these people are.
Not that there’s anything wrong with these people. Many are community benefactors and have done much great work in Brevard. But they are who they are.
In a Brevard Times political column from last July, these two differentiated themselves on several issues. (http://cp.opinion.brevardtimes.com/2013/07/first-look-candidates-for-county.html)
Barfield said the top challenges facing Brevard are increased costs of pensions, health care, and Medicaid. Hartman said Brevard needs jobs, improved infrastructure, and focusing on budgets “needs” instead of “wants.”
On spending cuts, Barfield would delay projects that haven’t started and wait to fill vacant jobs openings. Hartman said he would cut administrative costs in EELS and HHS.
Regarding the Economic Development Commission, Barfield is status quo and Hartman says that the county should not fund more than 50% of its total income.
I have heard that overtures have been made to Ron Taylor – the other self-professed conservative in the race who garnered a distant second to Hartman at the straw poll – to drop from the race so the conservative vote would not be split.
It is an interesting idea.
However, I saw brand new Taylor road signs out just yesterday on south Merritt Island. That doesn’t sound like a guy who is considering backing down.
So…Hartman has the grassroots and Barfield has the cash. The next few months will prove interesting in how they campaign to best capitalize on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses.