With incumbent Clay Ingram unable to run for reelection due to term limits, the District 1 seat in the Florida House of Representatives is up for grabs. There are five candidates vying for the office.
Mike Hill, one of three Republicans in the race, is seeking to return to the state legislature.
An Air Force veteran and local businessman, Hill served three years in the Florida House.
He won a special election in 2013 following the death of then Dist. 2 Rep. Clay Ford. In 2016, he lost a contentious race for the state senate.
After a year on the sidelines, he was encouraged to give it another shot.
“Well, I was approached by several friends, who related to me, ‘Mike you’re a unique candidate in that you have your military background and experience, you’re a small business owner,’” said Hill, pointing to his 28 years as a State Farm Insurance agent and his time served in the House.
On his campaign website, Hill refers to himself as “The Conservative Standard” and touts his endorsements from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson; Dr. William Lile, the founder of ProLifeDoc.org; and Citizens for Trump.
A video of Hill speaking at a Trump rally in 2016 is featured prominently on his Facebook page.
As a conservative candidate, Hill received a grade of “B” this year from the National Rifle Association, but the NRA endorsement went to his primary opponent Rebekah Bydlak.
Still, if elected, he says one of the first things he wants to do is to repeal some aspects of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, because he believes it infringes on Second Amendment rights.
“Those who are 18-20 can no longer purchase a firearm,” Hill said. “There’s a waiting period now, for those, no matter what age you are, to purchase a firearm. There can be confiscation of your firearms, (and it would ) be more difficult to make any alternations to our firearm if it’s considered a bump stock.”
Hill speaks of the February 14 shooting at the school in Parkland as a tragedy, but believes such gun measures would not have stopped the attack. Aspects of the law he supports include more funding for school resource officers, school hardening, and the option for school officials to carry guns on campus.
Hill is also passionate about combating efforts throughout the state to remove historical monuments, such as the Confederate monument in downtown Pensacola and the Cross at Bayview Park.
“The history of the U.S. has not been without its flaws,” proclaimed Hill. “However, our history makes up the people of who we are today and we need to learn from our history not hide from it. And, I pledge to file legislation to make all historical monuments off limits to being taken down, placed in a museum, or whatever. Leave them there.”
On the issue of education, Hill says he supports school choice and is a proponent of less standardized testing.
Looking at some of the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this year, Hill believes amendments to the constitution should be rare and that such changes in state law generally should be handled legislatively.
Amendment 4 restores the voting rights of felons who’ve completed their sentences, except for those convicted of murder or sex offenses.
“I would be in favor of that,” said Hill. “Our current process of the Governor and the Cabinet looking one by one, at each one to determine it; it could have been a good process in the past, but it’s become too cumbersome, too time consuming and the backlog is hundreds, if not thousands, of cases where those who are waiting to have their rights restored and simply can’t.”
To clarify, Hill likes the idea of restoring felons voting rights, but went on to say he would probably vote no on the amendment.
Shifting to Amendment 5, this measure would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature – rather than a simple majority - to approve any new or increased taxes or fees.
“I would say yes, because this measure puts a limit on government, making it harder to raise taxes on its citizens; always for low taxes and limited because that’s how a people prosper.”
When it comes to the prosperity of his campaign, Hill raised nearly $49,000 through July 20. That’s not bad, but it is way less than the $219,000 he collected in his last House run in 2014, and it’s less than a third of the $158,000 in campaign contributions that his chief primary opponent Rebekah Bydlak has raised.
At the end of the day, Hill believes what will resonate most with voters is his experience as a military officer, small business owner, and as a former House member, who says he has a good relationship with all of the chamber’s incoming leadership.
“So, I think that should I go there and meet with them, they understand my work ethic,” said Hill. “They understand what I’m capable of doing there. And, I think that’s gonna [sic] mean a lot when it comes to committee assignments and things that could directly benefit us here in the Panhandle.”
Hill will square off against Bydlak and Lisa Doss in the August 28 Primary Election. The winner will face the Democratic nominee, Vikki Garrett or Franscine Matthis, in November.