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Republican Mike Hill Goes Door To Door For Votes

Sandra Averhart
WUWF Public Media

In the race for the Florida House District 1, it’s come down to a contest between Democrat Vikki Garrett and Republican Mike Hill. Just a few weeks out from the Nov. 6 General Election, the candidates are working to drum up support.

Both were out on the campaign trail this past Saturday. WUWF caught up with Hill as he was canvassing voters in the Cantonment area.

“Takes care of her yard, she loves plants,” said Hill just before a friendly knock on the door of 73-year-old Doris Hawkins.

Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media
WUWF Public Media
Mike Hill leaves a campaign brochure at a home in a Cantonment neighborhood where he was canvassing on Saturday.

Hill waits a bit for her to answer. But, on this sunny, pleasant day, it appears Mrs. Hawkins is not home, so the Republican candidate leaves a note and some of his campaign literature.

He explains, “On days like this, when the weather is so beautiful it’s not unusual to find a lot of people not at home because they’re out enjoying the weather.”

Hill spent a few hours knocking on the doors of potential voters in a neighborhood off West Roberts Road in north Escambia County. He’s being guided by the mobile app webElect.

The app utilizes voter information from the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office.

“They’re able to - based on what you put on your voter registration -  they can tell when you voted. They don’t know how you voted. They can just tell when you voted and the number of elections,” said Hill, also referencing voters’ name, age, address and party affiliation.

Identifying party affiliation is important; because it ensures Hill doesn’t waste time knocking on the doors of Democrats.

“In the Primary, I was focused only on Republicans,” Hill said, adding that now in the General Election he’s now able to add No Party Affiliate voters to the mix.

“In the primary, I may knock on 15, maybe 20, doors on this whole street. But, including the NPA’s, I’m gonna [sic] be knocking on 30, maybe 35, on this street. So let’s see who’s next.”

Next is the home of Deborah King and this time Hill is in luck.

“You’ve been identified as an important voter and I wanted to stop by and introduce myself, and tell you a little bit about me,” he begins.

In making his pitch, Hill explains that he’s a Republican, military veteran and small business owner.

“I’m a staunch defender of our constitution, including our second amendment rights, and wanted to ask you if there are any issues on your mind that you’d like to discuss.”

After a long sigh, King, who’s now in her 50s, explained that she was in the midst of looking for a new job.

Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media
WUWF Public Media
Cantonment resident Donna Webb tells Florida House District 1 candidate Mike Hill that she has already voted for him.

Other than a brief discussion of jobs and the economy, she did not get into an exchange on political issues.

Hill was engaged by a 63-year-old neighbor, a registered Republican who wanted to remain anonymous, about the lack of political willingness to compromise when it comes to gun control legislation.

“I’m not saying let’s abolish guns; I’m saying let’s be reasonable,” the woman explained. “I think we’ve got to get a balance in there, and I think we’ve got to do something to help the children in school”

Hill echoed her comments to indicate his understanding and pointed to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. The measure would harden the schools, provide more money for school resource officers, and includes gun control regulations.

“And, I don’t like the idea of arming teachers,” the resident responded. “Teachers are there to teach.”

According to Hill, ensuring school safety, within an excellent education system that contributes to a favorable environment for job creation are among the main issues that he’s encountering on the campaign trail.

Hill, a former state representative from District 2, is trying to return to the state legislature. He lost a bid for the state senate in 2016 in a Republican primary race against Doug Broxson that turned ugly with negative attacks by candidates.

The 2018 Republican primary against Rebekah Bydlak also was contentious, with some of Hill’s attacks being characterized as “deceitful, inappropriate, and un-gentlemen-like” by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida.

“They’re all relatively young and they were heavily supporting my opponent in the primary, so when we won they were ungracious in defeat and wanted to lash out,” said Hill in downplaying the criticism. “They said that I ran a campaign that was full of smear tactics, but it came from the other side also.”

In the General Election, Hill is facing another woman, Democrat Vikki Garrett. With their political differences more apparent, he says he hasn’t felt the need to be as combative.

“You just have to do it based on what’s at the time,” he said. “So, what I’m finding now is I can be more positive about the things I stand for and not have to be so concerned about trying to point out the negative things of my opponent, because I don’t have an opponent who’s doing that to me at this point.”

Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media
WUWF Public Media
Using the mobile app webElect, state house candidate Mike Hill identifies another voter to visit while canvassing this weekend.

Overall, Hill is feeling good about his chances of winning the Florida House District 1 seat. Afterall, he says it’s a conservative district, with more registered Republicans - almost 52,000, representing about 47 percent of the electorate, and it’s been nearly 20 years since a Democrat from the area was elected to the state legislature. Additionally, he feels the GOP got a boost from the controversy surrounding the confirmation of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Even though it looks good for me, I can’t take it for granted,” Hill explained. “I must work and work hard to earn the votes and the respect of the voters who are out there.”

With that, Hill refers to the voter app on his cell phone and is off to find the next door to knock on.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.