In Florida’s 6th Congressional District, former state Rep. Fred Costello is losing the fundraising battle to opponents Mike Waltz and John Ward.
However, Costello believes he has a unique value-add that his competitors don’t — an ironclad claim of residency.
Costello’s campaign, via campaign manager Vic Baker, asserts (not for the first time since this race began) that neither Waltz nor Ward can make that.
“John Ward does not live in Palm Coast which is CD 6. He lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, and he’s registered to vote in CD 4. He’s been there for about four years,” Baker notes.
The campaign produced a record showing that registration: JOHN PETER WARD JR. VOTING RECORD
Waltz’s issues are similar, per Vic Baker, who also produced that registration.
“Mike Waltz actually has a home at 411 G St SW in Washington D.C. He co-purchased a house with his mother in St. Augustine Beach July 31, 2017. Deed was recorded August 2017, and he registered to vote from that address on August 11,” Baker said.
That St. Augustine home has a homestead exemption.
“Michael Waltz has NEVER voted in the State of Florida, even though he was born in Boynton Beach and raised in Jacksonville. We have done more than a cursory dive into voter records. Waltz people are calling our statement ‘fake news.’ Yet they have not responded with any evidence,” Baker added.
The irony, per Baker: “Neither one can vote for himself unless either moves to CD6 in the next four days.”
Waltz’s campaign said that these concerns were “recycled,” having been reported on in the past.
Ward, meanwhile, offered a lengthy statement Friday afternoon, saying that while he has a residency issue, Waltz’s residency and financial disclosure overwhelms that.
“I have been very upfront with voters since declaring my candidacy back in October that I live in Ponte Vedra Beach. Costello ran on this same issue against Congressman DeSantis, and the voters decisively picked Ron, twice. My kids attend the St Johns County public schools and St Johns County is part of the district. I coach youth sports in my community, and that includes a lot of activity in Flagler as well; the Ward family is eating the home-cooking,” Ward said.
“I think the larger issue is Waltz’s residency and transparency. Mike took the Homestead Tax Exemption in Washington, D.C. (for which you need to be a DC resident) in 2017 after having registered to vote in Florida in July 2017. It isn’t possible to be a permanent resident of two places at once,” Ward added.
“The other thing is,” he said, “Waltz hasn’t bothered to file the House of Representatives mandated financial disclosure documents nor has he filed for any extensions. His financial disclosure was due, at the latest, in May and we’re now 32 days from the primary. Here’s a guy who claims to run a company that has a majority of its revenue from taxpayer-funded contracts. You’d think the voters would like to know to what elements of the government or to which defense contractors he’ll feel beholden if elected.”
“So I think the combination of taking the DC tax exemption while registered to vote in FL in conjunction with not filing a financial disclosure paints a pretty murky picture of who Waltz really is and clearly suggests he doesn’t even live in FL. Living in the state is a Constitutional requirement to hold the office,” Ward noted.
Waltz’s team asserts that they aren’t obligated to provide a financial disclosure until July 29.
The residency issue has been a complication throughout the primary campaign thus far, with the Daytona Beach News-Journal spotlighting it way back in January.
Ward’s defense was that when he bought his home, it was in the 6th District; Waltz’s campaign asserted that the house is just “200 feet” from the district boundary.
Florida Politics asked new questions of both campaigns, specifically regarding whether they are confident that residency issues are ultimately non-starters as the race hurtles toward a conclusion.
There are expectations that Waltz will start attacking Costello in ads, as the Ormond Beach Republican is not going away, despite only having $51,308 on hand (at last count).
Waltz and Ward, both heavily self-financed, have on hand more than $616,000 and $467,000 respectively.
Costello, while not on television, nonetheless is competitive with the two first-time candidates, both new to the district, in at least one poll.
Neither Ward nor Waltz has seemed primarily concerned with Costello thus far. However, Costello picks up 21.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters in CD 6; Ward gets 20.5 percent; Waltz has 20 percent.