He wasn’t the first candidate announced for Florida’s 4th Congressional District, but when Fernandina Beach Sen. Aaron Bean decided to pull that trigger, the campaign arguably became his to lose.
The outgoing President Pro Tempore of the Senate, known as gregarious and charismatic, could expect to have the backing of the state and national Republican establishment.
“Our nation is at a crossroads, being ripped apart at the seams by a liberal agenda that stifles economic growth and seeks to silence family values,” Bean said when kicking off his campaign. “We’re enduring rising inflation, gas prices that are crippling hardworking Americans, unprotected borders, a loss of respect for law and order, and constant federal overreach by a government attempting to tell us that they know what is best.
“I will not rest on the sidelines. I will stand up for the free state of Florida and carry the torch of conservative Northeast Florida and the Ron DeSantis Doctrine, a doctrine of freedom for all Americans, to Washington.”
Heading into the GOP Primary, Bean is dramatically outraising and outspending his opponents, while dominating in the polling.
A St. Pete Polls survey of likely Republican voters in the district showed more than 59% favor Bean for the Republican nomination, while 16% chose Erick Aguilar and around 6% went with Jon Chuba to win the Primary.
Among the 16% of respondents who already cast their vote-by-mail ballots by Aug. 4, nearly 62% say they voted for Bean. Just over 15% already put in their vote for Aguilar and around 6% have voted for Chuba.
The survey was conducted for Florida Politics. Pollsters included responses from 312 voters reached on Aug. 4. Results were weighted for age, race, gender and media market based on the active voter population of the newly drawn CD 4. Pollsters reported a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points.
Nassau, Clay and Duval County areas north and west of the St. Johns River are included in the district, which Donald Trump carried by 7 points in 2020. Gov. DeSantis won it by 5 points in 2018.
Aguilar, a Navy veteran and businessman, is continuing his effort that began with another Primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. John Rutherford under the old CD 4 lines.
“I retired from the Navy in 2016. I thought I was going to spend that time with my kids,” Aguilar said in a statement. “Then I started seeing that it wasn’t the country that I defended. Still today, we need to have more action and leadership. I understand things get political, I understand things happen, but we need to see results. I am an outsider and a leader.”
Aguilar ran for the GOP nomination in CD 4 two years ago, but didn’t find much success against Rutherford, a well-known former Jacksonville Sheriff. Aguilar claimed 19.8% of the vote in the 2020 Primary, versus Rutherford’s 80.2%.
Aguilar built up quite a campaign war chest, but how he went about that came under scrutiny. WinRed banned Aguilar for sending out fake fundraisers supposedly from prominent Republicans including DeSantis and former President Trump, as first reported by POLITICO.
Bean showed around $95,500 on hand going into the last weeks, and he’s raised more than half a million dollars since kicking off the campaign in early June. Aguilar reported more than $733,000 on hand. He drew more than $27,600 from individuals in the last reporting period, though just under $9,000 of those contributions are itemized. Aguilar also added $5,000 from himself to the effort.
Chuba, a health insurance contract analyst, is in the mix as well, but hasn’t been able to catch on in polling or fundraising. In the pre-Primary reporting period, he received $331 in unitemized contributions, spending close to $5,500 and coming away with less than $4,500 on hand.