Jet mechanic Jeremy Lau qualified as the Democratic candidate for the House District 2 race Friday 20 minutes before the filing deadline. After completing the paperwork, the former charter school teacher mapped out what he believes is his path to victory.
“I’m a moderate,” said Lau. “With extremists from either side things get ignored, schools, roads, infrastructure.”
Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, defeated Lau, President of Local 277 of the International Association of Machinists, in a 2013 special election to fill out the term of the late Clay Ford.
Hill served as the President of the Northwest Florida Tea Party from 2010 to 2013 and won 58 percent of the vote. Lau decided on a rematch after he dug into the returns and saw that he had captured 60-percent of the electionday vote. Hill rode to victory on voters casting absentee ballots and posted an overall victory margin of 3,000 votes.
“Special elections are elections on steroids,” said Lau. “I ran out of time. It’s that simple.”
The Republican Party enjoys a voter registration advantage of 44-percent to 37-percent for the Democratic Party. Gov. Rick Scott carried the district with 56-percent of the vote in 2010 and President Barack Obama received 41-percent in 2012.
“Mike Hill knows what his constituents want,” said RPOF spokesperson Susan Hepworth. “They want someone who will fight for increased spending in education, for reduced taxes and regulations and that is what Mike Hill represents.”
Lau intends to argue statements like that mask an extreme agenda.
“People are tired of extremes, even Tea Party extremes, said Lau. “I think they’ve seen, in the last session especially, where the Tea Party took what I considered hypocritical stances just to try to sway voters in an election year.”
Lau calculates he needs to win a majority of the 19-percent of voters not affiliated with either major party and convince moderate Republicans to support him. He has $5,000 on hand to do that with, according to state Division of Election records. Hill has about $54,000 to use to remind voters he’s an incumbent and a rising star in the majority party.
“I represent 750 machinists working on military bases,” said Lau. “Many are Republicans.”