First elected in 2018, Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow is completing his first term in Seat 3.
Simply put: the election for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3 is a matchup between a very good candidate who has served the public well, in Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, and the very worst kind of candidate in Dr. David Bellamy.
Matlow’s rise has been a watershed moment for reform in Tallahassee’s embattled City Hall, which has made national headlines for corruption and dysfunction, culminating in FBI investigations and federal indictments surrounding former Mayors Scott Maddox and now Andrew Gillum.
Candidates supported by Matlow swept both competitive 2020 local elections, including ousting former commissioner Bryan Desloge in conservative County District 4 and electing forward-thinking City Commissioner Jack Porter, whose opponent was endorsed by Mayor John Dailey — a crushing blow to Dailey’s perceived political status in the city.
Matlow’s grassroots momentum is being met in 2022 with a potentially equal, reactionary force of big establishment and GOP money behind a nominal “Democrat,” stoked by paid media and electioneering from pro-developer, pro-Chamber forces.
Bellamy’s notable supporters include former Florida House Speaker and Republican Party of Florida Chairman John Thrasher — a hardcore partisan GOPer who served as FSU President when the controversial $27 million Blueprint stadium giveaway defining the 2022 election cycle took shape — and several of his Republican-alligned colleagues at major Adams Street lobbying firms that abet Florida’s extremist legislative agenda.
Given his broad popularity and a sadly favorable post-Roe electoral environment, Matlow would normally have no problem in his re-election bid. But it’s worth noting David Bellamy’s campaign has raised a staggering sum of money — nearly $290,000, mostly from wealthy Republicans, real estate and development interests, as well as medical industry/insurance interests
Bellamy has defended his thousands in personal political contributions to fringe Republicans like Congressman Matt Gaetz, and has since said he voted for Ron DeSantis — facts sure to alienate a majority of Tallahassee voters.
The race also raises the specter of intervention of dark money influences from powerful lobbying forces, connected to the Maddox era and otherwise.
Mayor Dailey’s wife Virginia Dailey (who once called Matlow “extreme” for opposing a local property tax favored by her husband and the local Chamber) is a lawyer and former lobbyist for Florida Power & Light, perhaps the most influential corporate political interest in Florida, and one whose latest actions have almost entirely benefited the GOP’s control of the state . Whether FPL weighs in, as they have most notably in Jacksonville city politics (causing a backlash which has gone below the radar of many politicos in the state and furthered the ongoing realignment of Duval County politics), looms large in the background of the cycle.
Our site has touted good journalism and the importance of a free press among our statewide daily papers. Our press is doing the best job it can fighting the DeSantis menace, but one of the saddest aspects of this last gasp of the discredited local Tallahassee establishment is a new formation on the scene — former Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Skip Foster has teamed up with the ousted Desloge to form a front group called 4TLH, which is running negative attack ads against Matlow online.
Bellamy’s huge war chest and these connections augers some very dangerous news when it comes to local elections. We will touch on that subject on Thursday, in our next endorsement.