INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Robbie Brackett’s win Tuesday night continues the local Republican party’s dominance in Indian River County for sending politicians to Tallahassee.
Whether it was fundraising, the issues or the prominence of the GOP nominee, Democrats couldn’t break the hold for the state House District 34 race.
House District 34 includes all of Indian River County and southern Brevard County.
“When I came here in the 1970s, this county was totally controlled by the Democrat party,” said Tom Lockwood, president emeritus of the Indian River County Republican Executive Committee. “Hard work changed that. We didn’t just walk in and become the majority.”
Brackett, outgoing mayor of Vero Beach, defeated Democrat Karen Greb winning 68.22% of the vote to her 31.78%.
“You never know what to expect,” Brackett said about the results that followed a 10-month campaign. “You keep running hard. You keep running like you’re behind.”
He said he plans to focus attention on the cost of property owner’s insurance, which will be a topic during December’s special session. Bracket said he plans to start preparing for the session and talking with leaders.
“We’re going to find our place,” he said. “We’re the new guys coming in, we have to find our niche.”
His two terms, or four years, on the Vero Beach City Council dealing with many municipal issues helped him gain electoral momentum for the state race.
He’s been a part of controversial proposals including implementing a stormwater tax, discussing beachside parking problems and the future of the Three Corners area — a 38-acre waterfront area at the base of the Alma Lee Loy Bridge at 17th Street — among many other issues.
He and the Vero Beach City Council grappled with pandemic decisions, such as indoor masking. Brackett stood in the minority of the council and was opposed to mandating masking. The vote needed a super majority though, and the council did not have enough to pass that mandate.
Greb, of Sebastian, was running for office locally for the first time and took an unconventional tact for the campaign by doing little fundraising.
Brackett overwhelmingly had financial support, collecting $214,881 in donations and loans. In comparison, Greb raised $5,590, which included $5,000 in loans.
According to the Indian River Supervisor of Elections, Republicans hold a 48.3% voter registration majority, compared with the Democrats’ 25.5%.
Lockwood said the GOP must work hard to maintain that advantage in the face of a changing population.
“You’ve got a lot of independents now,” he said. “North County has a lot of Democrats, coming from major cities. I’ve learned never to take things for granted. Turnout is so important.”
Brevard adds about 16,000 voters to District 34 from Micco and its surrounding communities including Barefoot Bay, according to its supervisor of elections office. Republicans hold an advantage there too, with 47% of registered voters as Republican to 22.7% who are Democrats.
Indian River County has nearly 120,000 registered voters overall.
Term: Two years. Swearing in Nov. 22.