Civic Lessons

Democratic Congressional candidate and Stetson University alumnus Bill McCullough ’77 is emerging as a political outsider. He is running against Republican incumbent Ronald DeSantis for U.S. House Representative, and this year’s District 6 Congressional race appears as one of the most financially uneven campaigns in Florida.

“Our opponent has $4 million in his campaign,” said Sarah Hollmann, project manager for the McCullough campaign and junior political science major at Stetson. “Right now, we’re operating on a budget of less than the cost of two semesters at Stetson.”

Hollman isn’t necessarily making an indictment of DeSantis’ finances. More so, she is pointing at McCullough’s intent.

Bill McCullough, a Stetson alumnus, is seeking the District 6 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A Stetson graduate in 1977 with a bachelor’s in religious studies, McCullough, originally from DeLand, credits his university experience for his approach to change-making: “Stetson

U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis
U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach

gave me the opportunity to look for truth.”

McCullough contends he is all about service. Stanton O’Neal, a retired DeLand educator and McCollough supporter, agrees. “We need more people who are in politics, not as a career but as a service,” said O’Neal.

DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, endorsed by the American Conservative Union, has the experience and political resources that, arguably, McCullough does not have. He bowed out of the Senate race when Sen. Marco Rubio decided to run to pursue reelection. “In uncertain times, we need proven leaders,” stated the official DeSantis campaign on its website, Facebook and Twitter.

Also, DeSantis released this statement regarding his potential third consecutive term as House Representative: “I can best advance the cause.”

McCullough, having worked in both finance and arbitration, asserts that his small-money, grassroots campaign is an asset. “I have made the commitment to only take money from individuals. The problem is big money in politics. The more money you get the less careful you are with it,” he said.

His rejection of large corporate support, which drew support from Volusia progressives during the primary, now is part of his attempt to draw support from many moderate Republicans.

“I don’t know that I would claim the moderate tag myself,” McCullough said. “I’m interested in doing things in a civil manner. We do need to listen to each other.”

DeSantis, meanwhile, seeks to strengthen border security and reform recovery efforts. “It’s time we bring accountability to Washington,” he stated in a campaign ad. “But I need your help to do it.”

Hollmann, who began as a summer intern, believes in the campaign’s lasting power, especially for young people seeking to enter politics. She describes the effort as changing the “culture of campaigns.”

McCullough aims to appeal to younger voters through his views on affordable higher education, along with his dissatisfaction of local “establishment” government. “There was no one I could support so I became that person,” he said. “We have to invest in this country.”

DeSantis’ platform is rooted in upholding foundational ideals. “The oath of office taken by incoming members of Congress imposes upon them one overriding duty: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the DeSantis campaign website pronounced.

Hollmann, for one, takes exception, commenting, “There’s the idea that our congressmen and people we’ve elected are not working for us. But a government for the people by the people is just that – by the people.”

Similarly, McCullough counters DeSantis’ stance on limiting government. With a background in ministry, McCullough draws similarities between pastor and politician. “They call us bleeding-heart liberals,” he said, “but it’s not bad to be concerned about your neighbors. Church taught me not to abandon people.”

Such is the back and forth of a political race nearing the finish line.

Regardless of views, Hollmann encourages her fellow students to participate in next week’s Election Day, and not only for the Presidency.

“It’s important to vote down the ballot,” she said. “The President can’t get anything past without the support of Congress. That’s where all the policy happens.”

-Veronica Faison