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Numbers Weighted Heavily to GOP in Aaron Bean-Nancy Soderberg Senate Clash

October 30, 2012 - 7:00pm

Jacksonville Beach Democrat Nancy Soderberg continues to put up a feisty campaign for state Senate against former state Rep. Aaron Bean along Floridas First Coast, but the odds -- and hard numbers -- may be stacked against her effort.

Soderberg has remained competitive in fundraising for Senate District 4, even outraising conservative businessman Bean in the most recent filing period in the contest to replace term-limited state Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville.

The pair also maintained a growing clash over the direction of the state Legislature and special-interest money during a radio debate on WJCT 89.9 FM on Monday.

Just last week, Blue Cross Blue Shield gave her $75,000, said Bean, who works as the relationship development officer for Shands Jacksonville. Lets get that on the record, lets be fair that we both have received money from the health care industry.

Soderberg, who disputed she received any health care money -- the Florida Times-Union has reported the money given to Principled Leadership For Florida has gone to the Florida Democratic Party not directly to Soderberg -- while supporting the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, questioned what Bean has promised in exchange for the health care money he has taken.

However, any Democrat, even one able to receive financing from former President Bill Clinton and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would have a difficult time in the new District 14 that includes all of Nassau County and about half of Duval County.

The district leans heavily Republican; 49 percent of the registered voters mark themselves as members of the GOP and 31 percent as Democrat. In 2010, voters in the district favored Gov. Rick Scott over his Democratic challenger Alex Sink, 62 percent to 35 percent.

Still, Senate President-designate Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who has been active through his extremely active Committee of Continuous Existence, noted that the presidential contest will have a down-ticket effect.

That could bode well in the Jacksonville region for Soderberg, where the Obama campaign has put on a strong ground game in its early voting turnout in Duval County that has offset Republican gains in Nassau County.

But while, after four days, the Democrats hold an 11,294-vote advantage for ballots already cast in Duval County, there is no immediate breakdown for votes from those in District 4.

Since surviving a bitter and expensive primary battle, Beans fundraising has been slightly ahead of Soderberg: $147,809 to $113,270.Soderberg outpaced Bean -- $43,215 to $39,425 -- in themost recent of the three reports filed since the August primary.

In the radio debate, Bean, from Fernandina Beach, points to his experience in the House from 2000 to 2008 and service as mayor of Fernandina Beach for providing the region with a senator who wont be a novice in Tallahassee.

I was a former bank president and now work for Shands Healthcare, in addition to the two small businesses, but we also have the experiences of having been there, of being in the Legislature, said Bean, who also owns Putt-Putt Fernandina Beach and co-owns an insurance company. We need a strong representative over there in Tallahassee,

Soderberg, a former national-security official in the Clinton administration, said the national experience gives her a broader perspective on issues, such as JAXPort and area military bases.

He was in the Legislature as part of the boom years, up until 2008, when this area took it on the chin, and didnt do anything to grow the port. Were behind on getting small businesses here, said Soderberg, who is also a distinguished visiting scholar in the department of political science and public administration and director of the public service program at the University of North Florida.

She has also been named president of the Connect U.S. Fund, an alliance of foundations working to promote foreign-policy agendas characterized by international cooperation and progressive ideas.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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