Home2024 CampaignDonors accuse Hattaway of 'bait and switch' in Senate Race against Randy...

Donors accuse Hattaway of ‘bait and switch’ in Senate Race against Randy Fine

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Less than a week before qualifying day, Robyn Hattaway announced her decision to drop out of the race for Florida Senate District 19 race. She announced her decision to refocus her efforts toward a lower level campaign for the State House in 2026.

Hattaway, a conservative attorney and former Port Canaveral Commissioner, stated in a press release that “there is not a viable path for me to serve in the State Senate this year.” Instead, she plans to run for the State House in District 31 in the next election cycle. She expressed gratitude to her supporters, emphasizing her ongoing commitment to public service.

However, the abrupt change in her campaign has sparked concern and a sense of betrayal among some of her contributors. Many had donated to her Senate campaign, motivated by her strong stance against the legally troubled and highly disliked opponent Randy Fine. Now, they feel deceived, likening the situation to a “bait and switch” scam.

“I donated to Robyn because I believed in her courage and her ability to challenge Randy Fine,” said one disgruntled donor. “To see her drop out at the last minute after campaigning for a year and redirect her efforts—and our money—towards a lower-level race is a slap in the face.”

Robyn with current SD 19 Senator Debbie Mayfield

They argue that Hattaway used the fervor against Fine to amass funds, only to retreat to a less competitive and much smaller race while potentially utilizing the same funds raised for her Senate bid. This strategy has left many feeling exploited, questioning the ethics behind her campaign’s fundraising tactics.

Robyn however says nothing could be farther from the truth. In a statement to us, Robyn said:

This has been so hard for me and my family. I worked up to the very end hoping for a different result. I have heard from a few people and am sad and disappointed, as they are. Every donor will receive a letter shortly regarding refunds. There is a state form the treasurer and I will include with all of the details.
My greatest fear in stepping back was disappointing anyone. But ultimately we didn’t have a viable path forward.
I adore and respect every donor. I’m so grateful that they took a chance on me. I will make sure they get their funds back if that is their preference.

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Robyn demonstrated a respectable amount of pubilc support as well as support behind the scenes from those who wanted to avoid the certain retaliation from Fine for supporting his opponent. Fine is currently facing ethics charges after the Ethics Commission found probable cause that he abused his office and position in retaliating against political opponents in the past. Their worries are very warranted.

Fine significantly outraised his opponents, not necessarily through his campaign account, but through his political action committee, Friends of Randy Fine. The vast majority of his funding coming from outside of Brevard and even the state from lobbyist and special interest groups like gambling, and liquor store establishments.

However, contrary to some of her donor’s beliefs, Robyn cannot simply just reallocate the funds she raised for her senate race to her future race. Under Florida law, when a candidate like Hattaway changes the office they are running for, they must inform all their contributors in writing and offer to return their donations upon request. Hattaway has committed to complying with this requirement and has promised to return contributions to any donor who wishes to have their money refunded.

The seat she has decided to run for is currently filled my State Representative Tyler Sirois. Should he win he reelection this year, it will be the final term he can serve in that slot due to term limits. So it will essentially be an open seat which will attract many new candidates like we are seeing this year in District 33; Randy Fine’s current seat which he is termed out.

In 2022, Robyn ran for district 31 against current State Rep. Chase Tramont, but was defeated by Tramont is the Republican Primary. That district only covers a very small portion of Brevard County, with most of the district bing in Volusia County. District 32 however, which she has filed to run for in 2026, is completely within Brevard County.

Some donors may feel disappointed, but it appears that Robyn is fully committed to going forward ethically, and honestly.

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