Former state Sen. Tony Hill announced Tuesday his candidacy in the new Florida’s 4th Congressional District, signaling that Democrats are serious about competing in the new seat that includes northern and western Duval County.
“I’m running for Congress,” Hill said. “I’m running to win.”
Hill announced his run on Jacksonville’s Eastside at the Longshoremen’s Union Hall, in front of dozens of supporters from throughout the new district, vowing to “connect the dots” and focus on constituent services, especially relative to veterans.
A former Army veteran, Hill used military talk in his pitch, urging supporters to “join this tour of duty with me for the next six months.”
“Stand with me because it’s going to get rough,” Hill said. “There might be conversations we may not like, but we’ve got to keep pressing.”
Hill served over eight years in the Senate and an additional eight in the state House, and his entry into this race ensures there will be a competitive General Election, despite the district being drawn to favor Republicans from Clay and Nassau.
CD 4 was drawn to replace the former Florida’s 5th Congressional District, a minority access map that sprawls from Central Duval all the way to Gadsden County. U.S. Rep. Al Lawson was elected three times in this district, which Gov. Ron DeSantis worked to eliminate during redistricting this year. Hill has been Lawson’s aide in this area since his election in 2016, and Lawson encouraged him to run when it was clear the current CD 5 wouldn’t survive.
One other Democrat of note is running. LaShonda Holloway, who ran previously and lost in the Democratic Primary to Lawson, is in. Hill said he hadn’t spoken with her before launching.
Meanwhile, monied Republicans are also in this mix. Among them: businessman and Navy veteran Erick Aguilar, who has self-funded heavily and says he has over $1 million to deploy.
Also in the mix: state Rep. Jason Fischer, who likewise will have over $1 million for this campaign. Fischer launched after he abandoned runs for state Senate and Duval County Property Appraiser.
Asked about those Republicans, Hill called them “formidable opponents.” He noted throughout his remarks Tuesday that fundraising was a real issue.
“It’s going to cost us to get our message out in Clay and Nassau,” Hill warned.
State Sen. Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach is also exploring a run. Bean, like Hill, is a political perennial, with long stretches in the state House and state Senate. Bean will also be able to draw on Clay County support given close ties to the Bradley family.
Other candidates could emerge. But what’s clear is this will be a hard fought contest, not just in August but also in November.
Hill hopes to make the race about the region, and not national politics. He doesn’t want a “referendum” on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but that will be the goal of Republicans in the General Election.