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Elijah Manley is not giving up.

Manley, the young queer political activist, placed third in the special election for Florida House District 94 on Tuesday, but remains undeterred in his quest to win public office.

“It may be a little dark where I am, but the sun is always shining in my heart,” Manley tweeted on Wednesday morning. “I’m proud of the clean campaign we ran. We didn’t allow a nasty campaign’s homophobia out west to beat us down. They won last night, but today is a new journey."

Daryl Campbell, 35, won the special election for Florida House District 94 on Tuesday evening, taking the universal primary with 40% of the vote.

A behavioral therapist and social worker, Campbell received 4,985 votes to defeat Josephus Eggelletion III who came in second with 3,617 votes for 30%. Manley was third with 2,157 votes for 25%. Rod Kemp closed out the four-candidate field with 711 votes for 6%. All four candidates are Black and Democrats. No other party fielded a candidate in the election.

This was Manley’s second attempt at the District 94 Seat. He finished second to outgoing Representative Bobby DuBose in 2020, taking 30% of the vote in a head-to-head matchup against DuBose. Manley cited low turnout (12%) and homophobic tactics that foiled his chances this time around.

“I faced a nasty homophobic whisper campaign about my sexuality in the Caribbean part of the district,” Manley said.

Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes and parts of Plantation have precincts with heavy Caribbean registration. Manley did well in the district’s eastern sections, winning precincts in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park.

“I thank the residents of Wilton Manors for coming out the strongest for me,” Manley said, adding the campaign will continue.

“This is not a loss and I’m not going anywhere, except forward,” he said.

Redistricting will change the legislative map in Florida and Manley said he intends to file for the newly formed House District 99 which will include many of the precincts in Wilton Manors that he won. That election is scheduled for August.

“I wake up every day, proud to be a Broward boy, and even more proud of the progress I’ve made in my own life,” said Manley, who turned 23 last week. “I’ll continue to fight for you all and the values of this district. Let’s continue to build together.”

Manley said he called Campbell after the election, revealing their conversation was “short and to the point” and did not mention the homophobic tactics deployed during the campaign, which Manley said were in the form of text messages, emails and mailers.

It remains to be seen if Campbell, who was DuBose’s chief-of-staff, will be seated for the 2022 legislative session, which started this week in Tallahassee. Broward County Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott has called on the Speaker of the House to seat Campbell due to his margin of victory. There are not enough registered voters in the district serving in the military overseas whose votes would surpass Campbell’s lead in the next 10 days.

The latest campaign finance reports show Campbell raised $74,799.18, spending $60,941.82 compared to Manley who received $31,927.59 in contributions and spent $10,388.28.

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