On Feb 21, with softball batting practice in the background, Allen Ellison, ‘07, spoke to a small group of FSC students in Babcock Garden.
Ellison was introduced by Vanessa Beckham, the director of the Simmons Center. The Hardee county native returns to his alma mater as one of six democratic candidates running to unseat Senator Marco Rubio in the 2022 midterm elections. Ellison won the special election when congressional candidate April Freeman died in 2018.
“I put my name in the hat to run for the United States House of Representatives with only 30 days to campaign, because she passed away 30 days before the general election,” Ellison said. “I won the special election against three other contenders, leaving me 28 days against a 3-term state senator, who had already been campaigning for a year, and raised over a million dollars for his campaign.”
Ellison secured 117,000 of 310,000 votes in the month he campaigned and raised $10,440—just enough money for his name to appear on the ballot. In the general election he lost to Greg Stuebe, who remains in the seat. But Ellison says this sends a clear message about his electability.
Ellison filed for the 2022 senate race in December 2020, adopting the twitter hashtag “#RetireRubio.” He’s been on the campaign trail for a year and a half, and statistically has been the most engaging candidate so far.
“For me, that sent the idea that if we work hard enough, we can reach anyone, and we can pull anyone over to our side,” Ellison said. “We have to be working to improve the quality of life for everyone.”
Among Ellison’s priorities are equal pay across sexes and races, universal basic income, universal access to healthcare and criminal justice reform, including the abolition of the death penalty.
Ellison owns a hair salon and says he is an advocate for small businesses.
“We teach this country to go to school, get a good education so you can get a job.” Ellison said. “What we should be telling people is ‘go to school, get a good education, and go out and start a business.’”
He is also a supporter for the expansion of general education to include trade skills.
“We need to definitely enhance our educational system because the average American does not have a trade,” Ellison said. “I have a degree in political science, but I also have a trade that I can always fall back on.”
Ellison runs for senate largely in the shadow of U.S. Representative and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, who has shown in early polls far more likely to be the breakout candidate in the November election.
A Feb. 16 Mason-Dixon poll projected 49% of the vote to Rubio and 42% to Demings, with 9% of projected voters being undecided.