The crowded field of candidates for Brevard County Commission District 2 just got even more crowded.

On Friday, Merritt Island resident Jack Smink filed to run as a Democrat for the seat.

The seat since 2014 has been held by Republican Jim Barfield, who in November announced that he would not seek re-election to a second four-year term because of business commitments.

Smink is the first Democratic candidate to announce. But there are six Republicans already in the race.

Former Brevard County Commissioner and current Merritt Island Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Chuck Nelson of Merritt Island was the latest Republican to enter the race, filing on Monday.

The others are Jim Glover of Merritt Island, Robyn Hattaway of Merritt island, Cordell Rolle of Rockledge, Timothy Street of Merritt Island and Tim Tumulty of Cocoa Beach, who is a former member of the City Commission there.

You may remember Smink for two reasons:

• He ran as a no party affiliation candidate in 2014 District 2 County Commission election, against Barfield and Libertarian candidate J.J. McCurry. Smink receiving 27.8 percent of the vote.

• He is a well-known Elvis Presley tribute artist who has performed worldwide. (Smink said he is putting that business on hold while he devotes his full-time efforts to the County Commission campaign.)

Smink at one time was a Republican, then changed his registration to be a voter with no party affiliation for his 2014 campaign. He registered as a Democrat on Friday.

Smink said he is “impressed with the enthusiasm” of the current local Democratic Party and its new leadership.

“It’s a different Democratic Party than four years ago,” Smink said. “I think I’ll have some tools in my toolshed that I’ll be able to work with. I’m willing to step out and take chances.”

Smink cited another reason to run as a Democrat. He said he believes that many of the “establishment” Republicans will get behind Nelson’s candidacy.

But Rolle said he believes having a relative large number of Republicans in the race helps his own candidacy, as a millennial-generation candidate, in going up against a well-known opponent like Nelson.

Rolle, an information technology configuration manager for Liberty IT Solutions in Melbourne, said the large number of candidates helps individual candidates “find their base” of support and creates a more “level playing ground.”

He said the Republican Party “is not just one-sided,” but rather has many facets and political niches.

Rolle said he’s not surprised by the relatively large number of candidates, because, “without an incumbent, you tend to flood the field” with candidates.

District 2 currently has 34,153 Republicans, 25,541 Democrats, 19,436 voters with no party affiliation voters and 607 voters registered in other political parties.

District 2 includes Avon by the Sea, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral and Snug Harbor, as well as most of Merritt Island, and portions of Cocoa, Rockledge and Patrick Air Force Base.

County commissioners are paid $58,145 a year.

Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or dberman@floridatoday.com.

Article originally posted at: https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2018/01/12/smink-first-democrat-join-crowded-field-district-2-county-commission-seat/1030202001/

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