Local Politics

Political news for the Pensacola and Northwest Florida area.

Michael Fleshman/Flickr

Florida voters approved 11 out of 12 amendments on Election Day, including 4, 13 and 12. These amendments address the right to vote, animals’ rights and provide new limits on lobbying government. All constitutional amendments on the Florida ballot needed at least 60 percent to pass.

Amendment 4: Voting Rights for Ex-Felons

The numbers are in and with a long list of Florida constitutional amendments, the voters have decided they approve of the majority of the amendments placed on the ballot.

1. Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption: Not Approved

Florida retains the current homestead tax exemptions, which total $50,000. A yes vote would have Allows homeowners to deduct up to another $25,000 from the taxable value of a home worth more than $100,000 up to $125,000 starting on January 19, 2019.

2. Limitations on Property Tax Assessments: Approved

Election Night Live Coverage: Local Races

Nov 6, 2018
Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Escambia County: 

City of Pensacola Mayor: Grover Robinson with 56 percent of votes and all precincts reporting. 

County Commissioner District 2: Doug Underhill with 57 percent of votes and 13 of 14 precincts reporting

ECUA District 2: Lois Benson 

Escambia County School Board District 3: Laura Dortch Edler 

Escambia County School Board District 2: Paul H. Fetsko

City Council District 4: Jared Moore

City Council District 6: Ann Hill

Escambia County Soil and Water Conservation District 2: Levy J. Morgan


With the clock ticking toward the close of the 2018 General Election, the candidates for Florida’s First District Congressional seat are making a final push for votes.


Follow live coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, including results and analysis. Get caught up on the latest news.





There’s been plenty of data and think pieces dedicated to young voters in Tuesday’s election. And for good reason. According to a poll released last week by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, 40 percent of adults under 30 said they would be voting on Nov. 6.

The last time midterm turnout among young Americans surpassed 20 percent was in 1994 and before that in 1986.

More Democratic women are running than Republican women nationally, and Northwest Florida doesn’t look much different. Though several Republican women ran in the primaries in this area, the majority of the women remaining on the ballot in the general election are Democrats.

Dr. Jennifer Zimmerman, Dr. Z, is running against incumbent Rep. Matt Gaetz. Unlike Matt Gaetz, Dr. Z joined the race to fight against the Trump administration.

Ginnerobot / Flikr

To vote or not to vote? That’s the question some young people are asking themselves for the upcoming midterm election. Artists like Taylor Swift and Kanye West have worked to convince millennials that voting is a priority this year.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum brought his campaign to Pensacola on Wednesday, making two stops to enthusiastic crowds. After a morning rally at St. John the Divine Church downtown, he appeared at midday at Arlene Williams BBQ on Mobile Highway. That’s where WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody caught up with him.

Okaloosa County

Okaloosa County residents will have the chance to vote on a half-cent surtax to fund infrastructure projects around the county this Election Day.

The half-cent tax, otherwise known as a local option sales tax, reduces the need to raise property taxes and “spreads the pain” of taxes to residents and visitors of Okaloosa County, said Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel.

Early voting for the midterm elections is just past the halfway mark, with turnout and enthusiasm said to be unusually strong. As with every election, there are some who would try to throw a wrench into the election process and keep people from voting.

The common thread through all the dirty tricks and other skullduggery is an attempt to stop certain groups of people from voting at all, in hopes of influencing the outcome of an election.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

On Florida’s General Election ballot, voters are being asked to decide whether most convicted felons in the state should have their voting rights restored. Passage of proposed constitutional Amendment Four could change the lives of nearly one-and-a-half million people.

Ben Calloway of Pensacola would benefit from passage of Amendment 4.

“Yeah, I was 18 when I got in trouble the first time,” said Calloway, recalling his arrest on marijuana possession.


Less than two weeks until Election Day, more than 1.1 million people have already voted in the battleground state of Florida – including 118,000 early voters as of Tuesday. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports many will have to vote by provisional ballot, while others’ right to vote appears to be under siege.

“Sort of the best way to think of [provisional ballots] is as kind of a ‘last chance’ ballot if you will,” says Okaloosa County Elections Supervisor Paul Lux.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson brought his re-election campaign to Pensacola on Wednesday, with him and fellow Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama speaking at the Escambia Education Association headquarters.

Supporters filled the auditorium at the EEA carrying signs representing students, women and the current issue regarding beach privatization.

City of Pensacola

In part two of our look at Pensacola’s mayoral candidates, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody recently visited with City Councilman Brian Spencer.

Spencer joined the mayor’s race literally at the 11th hour, signing up about 60 minutes before the end of qualifying in June. An architect by training, he has served two terms on the City Council representing District-6, and finished second in the primary to Grover Robinson with 21 percent of the vote. The two meet in the November 6 runoff.

City of Pensacola

Voters in Pensacola will select the city’s second “strong mayor” on November 6.  In a two-part report, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody sat down with both candidates. First up, Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson.

A record number – more than 16,000 – turned out to vote in the six-candidate race. Robinson, who’s leaving the Commission after two terms, got a plurality of the vote at 34 percent. He’ll meet City Councilman Brian Spencer in the runoff.

WUWF Public Media

A study by the ACLU released in September found Florida vote by mail ballots are 10 times more likely to be rejected than a ballot cast during early voting or on Election Day.

Daniel Smith is the author of the ACLU report and works as a political science professor at the University of Florida. He’s been studying voting patterns and elections for nearly 20 years. He explains why vote by mail ballots aren’t always counted.


Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office is adding a 9th early voting location for the November 6 General Election at the University of West Florida.

Calling it unconstitutional, Tallahassee Federal Judge Mark Walker in July struck down the ban on campus early voting put in place by Secretary of State Ken Detzner. In his ruling, Walker said it appeared to have been aimed at stopping younger voters from casting ballots.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Pensacola area native Vikki Garrett is seeking to become the first Democrat in nearly two decades to win the District 1 seat in the Florida House of Representatives.  With the November 6 General Election fast approaching, she and her Republican opponent Mike Hill were both campaigning this past Saturday. WUWF found Garrett stumping for votes at the UWF football homecoming festivities.


Attack ads and Hurricane Michael. That just about sums up the race for U.S. Senate in Florida in this mid-term election year.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott jumped out to a slim lead in the polling over the summer, to go with a major spending advantage — more than $27 million, compared to Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson’s $6 million – according to the website Open Secrets.

Charles Zelden, a political scientist at Nova Southeastern University, says the tone of the campaign has met expectations.