After fixing and replacing damaged Biden/Harris campaign signs, Okaloosa Democrats have raised $3,740 in just a few days for billboard advertisements for the Democratic presidential ticket.
“It’s been fantastic,” said Okaloosa County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Tracey Tapp. “We had 85 people — some of them have never donated before. Democrats are coming out of the woodwork to support Democrats.”
Last week, Okaloosa Democrats shared photos on their Facebook page of their 8-foot -by-4-foot signs damaged or defaced, and announced plans for Biden/Harris billboards.
“When they go low, we go bigger,” the post read.
“We had two on public property that were damaged,” said Tapp. “One was damaged within four hours — the stake was pulled out of the ground and bent, which we salvaged and put it on private property. Another one was spray-painted.”
The Biden/Harris billboards will be up from Oct. 7 to Election Day, Nov. 3. Locations include Mary Esther, Fort Walton Beach, Valparaiso, and Crestview. The final design will be approved this week.
Okaloosa County is traditionally conservative, with 83,410 registered Republican voters compared to 28,528 registered Democrats, according to the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections. Tapp said enthusiasm has been high, thanks to a historic number of Democrats running in down-ballot races throughout the Panhandle.
“Our headquarters is like Grand Central Station,” said Tapp. “We can’t keep the Biden/Harris yard signs in here long enough.”
Some of those yard signs have also been subject to damage. Mercedes Rodgers, who lives in Fort Walton Beach, had her Biden/Harris yard sign up for two weeks before someone spray-painted a black ‘X’ across the names. Rodgers said she was initially nervous to put the sign out in such a divided political climate, but also wanted the freedom to express her political views.
“It was shocking when it happened and we weren’t sure what to do, then (my husband) James cleaned the paint off and we put it back in the yard,” she said. “It’s a little bit stained, but looks fine.”
Rodgers even thought of putting a surveillance camera by her sign — which Okaloosa Democrats did with one of their large signs after fixing it — but her husband said they “should not let people who behave unlawfully affect what we’re doing.”
Davey Jones, Okaloosa Democrats’ state committeeman, said they’re not concerned with getting into back-and-forth conversations with anyone who disagrees with their signs.
“We’re trying to make sure we get the voter turnout and share a more positive message,” he said.