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2024 Election

Write-In Candidate Jose R. Fabiani Says He Doesn’t Plan on Actively Campaigning

ⓒ Fabiani's Flagler Supervisor of Elections Office photo.

Jose Rodriguez Fabiani, a registered write-in candidate for the Flagler County Commission District 3 seat, said he was not planning on doing any campaigning ahead of the general election this November. He gave this assertion in a brief phone conversation on Wednesday following accusations that he’d entered to close off the race to all non-Republican Flagler voters.

Prior to Fabiani’s registration as a write-in candidate, the field of three candidates was going to be open to all voters in the county regardless of party affiliation. Under Florida election law, if all registered candidates are of the same affiliation, the primary election will be open to all voters. If even one candidate enters with a different affiliation, there will be a closed primary for each party that has multiple registered candidates before the general election in November.

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Other than Fabiani, the District 3 candidates are Kim Carney, Bill Clark, and Nick Klufas. All three are registered Republicans. All three either collected the requisite petitions to appear on the ballot or paid the monetary fee to the Supervisor of Elections Office. This earns their names a spot on the ballot. Fabiani did neither, and so his name must be written in for him to receive a vote. One would think that would prompt rigorous campaigning to ensure that voters knew who Fabiani was and remembered his name on voting day. That’s not his approach at all.

Firstly, it was unusually difficult to contact Fabiani for a political candidate. On Tuesday he answered his phone and upon learning he was talking to a reporter, promptly hung up without a word. He did not respond to a subsequent text message. On Wednesday he answered again, and declined a recorded interview. He did, however, speak for about three minutes without choosing to go off-the-record when offered to. That portion was not recorded, but it did give a look into the curious campaign-that-wasn’t of Jose Fabiani.

Running Without Campaigning

During his brief comments about his candidacy, Fabiani denied reports that he’d been put up to the task by political activist Dennis McDonald, who FlaglerLive reported walked him through the registration process. He said he would not be doing any campaigning, and that voters had all the information they needed on his registration page with the Elections Office. After answering a few questions he said he was ending the interview, and again hung up immediately.

Dennis McDonald (center) supported Fabiani’s write-in entry to the race. ⓒ AskFlagler

Dennis McDonald, a multiple-time candidate for local office who’s been fined for campaign finance violations and filing frivolous lawsuits, was positively present with Fabiani when the latter filed. He was photographed by FlaglerLive walking Fabiani through the process. Records show that in September of last year, McDonald also donated $250 to Kim Carney, one of the candidates Fabiani could face in the general election. Later, McDonald’s friend Fabiani made it so that Carney, and her opponents Clark and Klufas, will be voted on only by Republicans instead of the entire county. Speculation is abound that this was supposed to help Carney, though in her 2020 County Commission run she was competitive with Democratic voters. She doesn’t see Fabiani’s entry as a targeted attack, but also doesn’t think it’ll help her out much.

“There’s people that don’t want to work as hard as I did, collecting 1,100 signatures,” she said.  “I don’t think it’s anything against anybody, it’s a choice that he made. Dennis has always been active in local politics, so I don’t know what motivates Dennis.” Additionally, Carney mentioned that she had already prepared for the event of a closed primary earlier this year when no-party-affiliation candidate Tom Hutson was briefly filed. Hutson, however, had all the makings of a legitimate candidate who intended to try.

Dennis McDonald and ‘The MAGA Chief’

Interviewed Friday about his interaction with Fabiani, McDonald said he bumped into his longtime friend at the Government Services Building, where the Supervisor of Elections Office is located. McDonald says he’d known that Fabiani, who he describes as ‘the MAGA Chief’, was planning on launching his write-in for some time before that day. Asked if Fabiani’s staunch Republican leanings fueled a desire to trigger a closed Republican primary, McDonald thought so. “I would absolutely assume that [was why],” he said. “The Republicans vote in the Republican primary, and the Democrats vote in the Democratic primary.”

As far as Fabiani’s disinterest in campaigning? “He’s a non-political guy,” McDonald said of his current-political-candidate friend. “[He] doesn’t want to screw up anything for any primary candidate.” Regardless, for better or worse, the candidates’ primary voter-field is now much different and thousands of voters have been shut out from the race. McDonald reaffirmed his support for Carney but resisted the notion that Fabiani’s entry would benefit her specifically, or hurt Klufas or Clark.

“He is absolutely thrilled that he will be on the same ballot as Donald J. Trump,” McDonald said in an attempt to encapsulate the spirit behind Fabiani’s entry. Of course, by the very nature of entering as a write-in, Fabiani will only appear on the ballot beneath Trump if any voters choose to write it there. He could’ve just as easily achieved the same effect by writing himself in for president in 2016, with enhanced proximity to boot. But, assuming he didn’t already do that as well, Fabiani will get his wish – along with the effect of transforming an open primary into a closed one.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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