The race for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District pits against each other two young women who won their primary elections in convincing fashion—but that’s mostly where the similarities end. The candidates are focused largely on different issues as the campaign reaches its final stretch run.
Incumbent Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Gainesville, is seeking a second term after succeeding retiring Rep. Ted Yoho—her former boss—in 2020. At age 34, Cammack is the sixth-youngest member of Congress.
Cammack told Mainstreet Daily News she is hearing a lot about economic concerns on the campaign trail.
“Inflation is hitting you at every turn—at the gas pump, at the grocery store,” she said. “The top priority across the board is fighting the rising prices.”
Cammack said the other top issues she’s hearing about from constituents are energy—including the cost of natural gas—and border security. She wants to return to the more expansive energy exploration and tighter immigration policies of the Trump administration.
Cammack’s Democratic opponent, 28-year-old political newcomer Danielle Hawk said the right to abortion is the top issue she’s hearing about from voters: “We’re hearing that from both sides of the aisle and people who consider themselves in the middle.”
Hawk said she’s also hearing about economic issues and supports expanded pre-K and making permanent the expanded child tax credit enacted during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hawk said voters she’s speaking with are also concerned about gun violence and pointed to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act as “a great example of how it is possible for Republicans and Democrats to work together on this issue.”
Hawk said a top priority for her is “closing the background check loophole.”
The 3rd Congressional District has shifted west significantly since the last election. The 2020 map took the district as far east as Palatka and as far north as Orange Park, but the new map approved by the Florida Legislature puts Gainesville on the eastern edge of the district.
It now includes Alachua, Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Suwannee, Hamilton, Columbia, Baker, Union and Bradford counties and part of Marion County.
Cook Political Report rates the district as Republican +9, or “solid Republican.” The New York Times rates the district as Republican +18.
Hawk said she wants to win but knows she is running in a district that leans Republican. She emphasized the importance of engaging new voters and “building the infrastructure for the right candidates” in the district.
“We are looking at a district where a lot of people have not been engaged,” Hawk said. “They feel left out by both parties.”
Cammack said she was confident in both her own campaign and the prospects for Republicans in November.
“I feel good about our odds,” Cammack said. “I think this is going to be a very big year for conservatives, and I think it’s because we’re focusing the issues people care about most.”