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Thursday, April 25, 2024
<p>Kat Cammack celebrates a victory against Danielle Hawk for House of Representatives District 3 Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.</p>

Kat Cammack celebrates a victory against Danielle Hawk for House of Representatives District 3 Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Cowboy hats, country music and flaring pyrotechnics filled the Granville Plantation event venue as around 200 attendees showed up to ring in Rep. Kat Cammack’s second Congressional term.

Republican Rep. Kat Cammack soundly defeated Democratic challenger Danielle Hawk in the race for U.S. House. The Associated Press called the race at 8:33 p.m., with Cammack taking 60.3% of the vote with 75% of precincts reporting. This marks Cammack’s second Congressional term following her first win in 2020. 

cammack win

The economy, border control and the fentanyl crisis were the issues Cammack cited as the most important entering her next term. She also reaffirmed her focus on implementing broadband internet access in rural areas, reducing government intervention in education and challenging tech companies.

“It’s going to be an exciting two years of fighting,” Cammack said.

Cammack’s win came as Republican voters are pushing for a “red wave” to put conservative candidates in Congress and other key positions. Her race is proof that voters are looking for more bipartisan legislation and compromise across the aisle, she said. 

“They want balance, and they want common sense, and they want sanity,” Cammack said.

Cammack has been particularly popular with some firefighters like Harold Theus, the 54-year-old Alachua County Fire Rescue Chief. He appreciates her public support of his profession, he said.

Based on Cammack’s time in Congress, including when she helped secure $2.7 million in grant funding for Clay County Fire Rescue, Theus said he’s confident she’ll continue to put his profession at the forefront of her policy points in her second term.

“Because of her strong advocacy for firefighters and public safety, we certainly support her,” Theus said.

Rural residents like Karen Disney, a 65-year-old Marion County resident, feel Cammack will be a more effective representative with experience from her first term. She’s looking for Cammack to advocate for those who live on farmland, she said. 

Cammack’s down-to-Earth nature reminded Disney of herself and her rural neighbors, she said. 

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“We’re really hard workers,” Disney said. “That’s one of the things we have in common.”

 

Cammack, a 34-year-old Colorado native, won her first race in 2020, when she defeated Democratic nominee Adam Christensen with more than 57% of the vote. She ran on a platform of tightening border security and defending the Second Amendment.

While in Congress, Cammack proposed legislation that moved to combat human trafficking, expand rural internet access and strengthen the powers of Homeland Security to mitigate illegal immigration. None of the 12 bills she proposed made it to law, and Cammack ranks No. 352 out of 435 in bills proposed among her Congressional colleagues.

 

Notable bills reached the House during Cammack’s tenure. She voted no on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which moved to secure the right to an abortion before it failed in the U.S. Senate. She also voted no on the American Rescue Plan Act, which distributed $1.9 trillion in nationwide COVID-19 relief efforts.

 

Cammack also voted no on the Equality Act, which aims to prohibit discrimination in public facilities, and the For The People Act, which looks to expand voter registration and ballot access. Both bills currently await Senate votes.

Cammack graduated from Metropolitan State University with her bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2015 and her master’s in national defense from Naval War College in 2018. A Colorado native, Cammack grew up on a cattle farm before moving to Florida.

 

Prior to her Congressional pursuits, Cammack was former Rep. Ted Yoho’s chief of staff. Yoho, a Republican, held Cammack’s position from 2013 until she was elected in 2020.

 

Cammack won her primary against lawyer Justin Waters with almost 85% of the vote. She’s received more than $2 million in campaign contributions, putting her well ahead of opponent Danielle Hawk’s $58,000.

 

Organizations like the NRA Concerned Veterans for America and individuals like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, state Rep. Chuck Clemons and sheriffs from counties across Florida’s Third Congressional District have endorsed Cammack.

Hawk hosted her congressional race watch party at the Depot Park Pavillion. About 20 people attended to show support for her campaign, including City Commissioner David Arreola. 

Hawk beat Tom Wells in the 2022 primaries with 67.6% of the vote. The 28-year-old Philadelphia native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in ministry from Palm Beach Atlantic University and later earned a master’s degree in intercultural studies from Biola University. 

The cheers and optimism displayed in her primary election watch party were tamed down during her most recent watch party. 

“Our campaign was about moving the needle,” Hawk said as election results rolled in. “Our struggle and our fight in Florida does not end tonight. It is starting. It is only just beginning.”

While working in administration for a private university in South Florida, Hawk distributed scholarships to help low-income students study abroad. She would sometimes accompany students on these international trips which partnered with universities overseas. 

Hawk ran on a platform that aimed to defend voting rights, reduce gun violence and support the right to repair. Advancing reproductive rights was her top priority, which she hoped to achieve by codifying Roe v. Wade. 

Alex Hamilton, Hawk’s office manager, didn’t feel regret after the results came out. Competing in heavily Republican districts such as District 3 is just as critical as winning a seat, she said.

Among the issues that brought Hamilton to the polls were reproductive rights, ensuring gender-affirming care for trans people, expanding child tax credits, affordable education and more accessible healthcare. For Hamilton, protecting the nation’s democracy was a principal issue.

Cammack voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which put her in office, Hawk said,

“That’s not a good message to send on what your priorities are going to be,” she said.

Similar to Cammack, Hawk’s platform included expanding internet access to rural communities. Hawk also pledged to further protect rural Florida by conserving local waters, but her campaign website lacked the commitment to mitigate against climate change which was included in her primary election platform. 

Hawk reorganized this part of her platform to focus on the Florida aquifer, the springs and the effect that the environment has on small local farmers so that it would be more palatable to District 3’s rural demographic, she said.

Rural constituents were more receptive to protecting the environment after her campaign changed focus, she said. If she’d won, Hawk said she wanted to author legislation that would federally protect Florida's springs, which are the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world. 

Hawk’s campaign received nearly $77,000 in contributions, according to the Federal Election Commission, of which almost $50,000 were used as operating expenses. 

City Commissioner David Arreola, who attended Hawk’s watch party, donated $500 to her campaign. The majority of her donations were received through ActBlue, a non-profit software company that facilitates left-leaning donations. 

“If you look at nationally, what's transpiring, we're looking at a very dangerous next couple of years for this country,” Arreola said. “Potentially for the rest of our lives.”

Cammack is excited for another two years in office, she said. With her victory paired with wins for Republican candidates like Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, Cammack said Florida’s political landscape is shaping in conservative favor.

“Things are looking very, very good in the Sunshine State,” she said.

Contact Heather and Fern at hbushman@alligator.org and ffigueroa@alligator.org. Follow them on Twitter @hmb_1013 and @fernfigue. 

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Fernando Figueroa

Fern is a junior journalism and sustainability studies major. He previously reported for the University and Metro desks. Now, he covers the environmental beat on the Enterprise desk. When he's not reporting, you can find him dancing to house music at Barcade or taking photos on his Olympus.


Heather Bushman

Heather Bushman is a fourth-year journalism and political science student and the enterprise elections reporter. She previously wrote and edited for the Avenue desk and reported for WUFT News. You can usually find her writing, listening to music or writing about listening to music. Ask her about synesthesia or her album tier list sometime.


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