by David Chapman, Mary-Kate Roan and Max Marbut
In the hours before the polls closed and any results were given for Tuesday’s primary elections, Angela Corey was all smiles.
When the results were in, she had no reason to stop.
Corey soundly defeated Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin in the race to succeed the retiring Harry Shorstein as the next 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney.
Corey received just over 64 percent of the 93,568 votes in Tuesday’s election. Plotkin received the remaining votes, at just over 35 percent.
“The City needs to get back on track,” said Corey. “People know my heart and I believe they have the same kind of heart.”
Corey called the results a “new and glorious day in the State Attorney’s office,” and said the large margin of victory was something she never considered.
“We ran a positive campaign,” she said. “The public is ready for a change.”
Hundreds attended the election day party at Corey’s Fraternal Order of Police headquarters with standing room only just after 6 p.m. and rounds of cheers even earlier.
The loudest cheers came following the announcement that Corey would win the race, with some attendees more elated than others.
“I’m very excited,” said Sheriff John Rutherford, who endorsed Corey along with Nassau County Sheriff Tommy Seagraves and Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler. “Angela will help take our fight against crime to the next level.”
For FOP Union President Nelson Cuba, Corey’s election means getting back to the basics.
“With Angela Corey elected, the communication between police and state attorney is back,” he said. “She supports law enforcement and criminals are now going to have to pay for their crimes.”
Others were equally optimistic about what Corey’s election will do to deter crime.
“I think this result sends a clear signal to the criminal element that the further commitment to keeping Jacksonville safe has been made,” said Mayor John Peyton, who stopped by the headquarters to congratulate Corey.
Unlike Peyton, though, Shorstein’s attempt to personally commend Corey wasn’t accepted.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Shorstein arrived to congratulate Corey on the victory but was blocked by FOP union president Nelson Cuba and asked to leave.
“I was somewhat stunned,” said Shorstein, discussing the reception he received.
Shorstein endorsed Plotkin and supported him strongly — and opposed Corey just as strongly — in the campaign, but said he was there to only offer congratulations and offer any assistance in the transition.
The situation might have been the one time Corey wasn’t wearing a smile.
She said she will continue to work in her current position in the 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s office while assessing the needs for the transition with her team over the next several weeks.
Corey will begin her new role as State Attorney in January.
As for Jay Plotkin’s side of the parties last night, what began as a slow party quickly filled with supporters when he arrived at 7:45 p.m. Greeted by applause, Plotkin immediately began mingling with the crowd.
Not even two hours later, Plotkin’s camp reported that Corey had won the race. And shortly after that, Plotkin made a speech to the crowd of supporters to thank them for being there for him as family and friends.
During the speech, Plotkin was quick to point out none other than Harry Shorstein, the man that had supported Plotkin as the one to replace him come January. He said that Shorstein was the best example of a public servant that the area had seen in a long time.
Things at the office will be business as usual for a few months before Corey is sworn into office in January.
“I’ll be there until the end of Shorstein’s term,” said Plotkin. “It’s months until Corey takes the office, and I will be there to help with the transition.”
Plotkin remained optimistic about his future plans, though they are still uncertain. One thing is certain: he wants to reconcile with Corey and the sheriff’s office and Fraternal Order of Police, stating that they are all professionals.
“I’m a prosecutor, not a politician,” said Plotkin. “I’ll reconcile and move on.”
Plotkin also added that despite his first campaign ever being so rough, there are no regrets.
“It’s not about Jay Plotkin or Angela Corey,” said Plotkin. “It’s about what’s best for Nassau, Clay and Duval counties. I just want to help the area and the community.”
He added that his children would be in school today and on time. There were a few tears in the crowd, to which Plotkin remarked, “We’ll be fine.”
“Everything went very well especially considering how Tropical Storm Fay put us behind in terms of delivering the equipment to the precincts,” was how Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland summed up the Primary Election performance of his staff and poll workers.
At 9 p.m., Holland said all but a few precincts had reported and at that time, he downsized his pre-election prediction of a 20-24 percent voter turnout to 19 percent.
“I think last week’s weather took a lot of attention away from the election and it also caused us to lose a couple of days of early voting,” he said.
Absentee ballots and early voting will be an even more important factor in the Nov. 4 General Election and expect a campaign to begin next month that will encourage both voting alternatives, Holland added.
“If people wait to cast their ballot at their precinct, I think there could be waiting lines as long as four hours in November.”
A random sample of precincts will be audited Friday with a hand-count of ballots to verify accuracy. The deadline for the Canvassing Board to certify the results of the Primary Election is Tuesday at 5 p.m.