Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Second Republican Debate, Consensus Lacking Among Duval GOP

Ryan Benk
A sign outside Player's Grille in San Marco welcomes debate-watchers Wednesday night.

After the second Republican presidential debate, the Duval County GOP is lacking consensus on who should win the party’s nomination for president.

Almost all of the major candidates had supporters in a San Marco bar Thursday night, where the local GOP gathered to watch the candidates battle for the spotlight.

Player’s Grille was crowded. Duval County Republicans gathered around chicken wings and beer to watch 11 candidates duke it out over the issues.

Who do Duval GOP members think would best represent them? Depends who you ask.

Recent Republican-convert Marlon Perry said although he’s mostly here to learn, he can't help but feel a connection to a specific candidate.

“I love Ben Carson,” Perry said. “He is a private citizen, who works hard, who loves his family, who stands up for what he believes in.”

Former Jacksonville City Councilman and candidate for Florida House Don Redman said he’s still making up his mind, but he’s leaning toward someone a bit more aggressive than Carson.

“Well, you know, I myself like what Trump is saying,” Redman said.  “I think some of the others need to forget about being so politically correct and jump out there and take a stand on some of these issues.”

Barbara Lockyer agreed about needing a more aggressive approach, but she has her heart set on another candidate with more experience.

“I’m working right with the Stand For Principle PAC for Ted Cruz,” Lockyer said.

Lockyer, who sported a Ted Cruz T-shirt dotted with campaign buttons, said part of what she likes about Cruz is his stance against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

“It basically comes down to, 'They don’t have the right to make a law, they only interpret it,' and it’s basically what they did when they made that decision,” Lockyer said.

Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News
State Rep. and Duval County Republican Party Chairman Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville) watches the debate with fellow party members.

Duval County Republican Chairman and state Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville) helped organize the watch party.

He said the diversity of opinion on display tonight is good.

“We as Republicans and we as Americans have won tonight because we’re beginning to hear ideas and we’re going to talk about them,” Ray said.

Ray says he already made up his mind before watching the debate but can’t divulge that information on account of his position.

He did say he polled party members at the watch party and will have the results of that survey next month. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.