Mel Ponder Dominates First HD 4 Straw Poll

The race to succeed Matt Gaetz in HD 4 saw its first straw poll Wednesday on Okaloosa Island. And Destin Mayor Mel Ponder ran away with it.

In a five person race, Ponder took almost 50 percent of the 78 votes cast. Ponder’s 35 votes almost doubled that of Jonathan Tallman, one of three political neophytes in the race to succeed the powerful Gaetz.

NWF Daily News, which had the original report of this story, noted that Ponder stressed a regional strategy, with a consolidated effort among NW Florida towns to reach shared goals.

Ponder’s only serious opponent in the race, Crestview’s Wayne Harris, finished with 11 votes in the poll.

Harris, an Okaloosa County Commissioner, and Ponder outpace the rest of the field in fundraising, raising questions about the viability of the other three candidates.