Updated June 3, 2022, 1:30 p.m.
In this post, I describe the political landscape of Collier County and make the case that the most important election for Collier voters is the Republican primary.
The Political Landscape
As of June 3, 2022, 51 percent of Collier County voters were registered as Republicans, 23 percent were registered as Democrats, and 26 percent were registered with other parties or with No Party Affiliation. (colliervotes.gov)
But that close split between Republicans (51 percent) and everyone else (49 percent) is misleading. How people are registered is irrelevant to how they vote in the privacy of the general election voting booth.
How Collier County Votes
Despite how voters are registered, Collier votes like a solidly Republican county.
The last time the majority of our presidential election votes went to a Democrat was in 1952 when voters chose Adlai Stevenson over Republican Dwight Eisenhower. (The News-Press, 6/8/14)
The last time we elected a Democrat to a major state or local government body in a partisan election was forty-two years ago, in 1980, when we elected Mary Frances Kruse to the County Commission. (Naples Daily News, 4/11/19)
In the 2018 general election, 65 percent of Collier voters voted for Republican Rick Scott for Senate, 67 percent voted for Republican Francis Rooney for Congress, 64 percent voted for Republican Ron DeSantis for governor, and 67 percent voted for Republican Kathleen Passidomo for State Senate.
In 2018, 56 percent of County Commission District 2 voters voted for Republican Andy Solis; 70 percent of District 4 voters voted for Republican Penny Taylor.
Most recently, in the 2020 general election, 65 percent of the Collier County voters who live in Congressional District 19 voted for Republican Byron Donalds. Sixty-six percent of the Collier voters in State House District 106 voted for Republican Bob Rommel. Sixty-nine percent of the voters in County Commission District 1 voted for Republican Rick LoCastro. Fifty-nine percent of voters in Commission District 5 voted for Republican Bill McDaniel.
Republicans have won every partisan local general race in recent memory, usually by a wide margin. And if anything, we have become more polarized in the two years since the last election, not less.
That’s why I believe there is very little chance of a Democrat winning a partisan general election in Collier County any time soon.
The only nonpartisan elections are for the City Councils, judges, members of the School Board, and members of the boards of independent districts, such as the Mosquito Control Board, the Collier Soil and Water Conservation District Board, and the Fire District Boards.
Why the Republican Primary?
If it is a foregone conclusion that the Republican candidates will win Collier County’s partisan general elections, then the most important election for Collier voters to vote in is the Republican primary — because that’s when the party’s general election candidates are chosen.
If you want to have any voice at all in who will make the governmental decisions that affect Collier County and Southwest Florida, the only way to do so is by voting in the Republican primary when you have local partisan elections on your ballot.
Register as a Republican
In order to vote in a Republican primary, you must be registered as a Republican at least 29 days before election day. (For the upcoming August 2022 primary, the deadline is July 25.)
That’s because Florida is a closed primary state — one of just nine in the country.
In closed primary states, only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican Party primary, and only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic Party primary. Voters affiliated with any other party or voters with no party affiliation (NPA) are generally not eligible to vote in either major party primary.
But when all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary election will not face any opposition in the general election (i.e. no write-in candidates have qualified), all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote for any of the candidates for that office in the primary election.
Be mindful that your party affiliation governs all offices on the primary ballot: local, state, and federal. You can’t pick and choose.
Some Republicans feel strongly that those who are not “true” Republicans should not be allowed to vote in their primaries.
Some Democrats are appalled at the idea of even registering as a Republican, let alone voting for one.
And the converse is true. Some Democrats object to Republicans crossing over to vote in their closed primaries, and some Republicans can’t imagine registering as Democrats.
But while crossover voting may be controversial, it is entirely permissible, and it makes sense in closed primary states.
You may change your party affiliation as often as you like, for any reason, at any time. And you can always change back to your preferred party after the primary.
How To Change Your Party Affiliation
Check the box at the top of the form for “Record Update/Change.”
My next post will include a few things to consider when evaluating the candidates running for election. Once the qualifying period closes and the ballot choices are set, I will begin sharing my research about many of the candidates Collier voters will have to choose from.
So stay tuned!