NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Chase Herbig was treated like a rock star at his meet-and-greet campaign event at the Garlic that drew 130-plus strong to the restaurant to hear the New Smyrna Beach mayoral hopeful talk about his plans for this seaside city's future.
The atmosphere was electric with the candidate, his wife, and their two kids playing host to the prospective voters who showed up. Politicians from neighboring cities were in the house as well - leading to a meeting of the two Chases -- Chase Herbig greeted by Chase Tramont, the Port Orange city councilman who is running for re-election.
Also showing up was Oak Hill Mayor Douglas Gibson and his wife, Dale.
Gibson said he's impressed with Herbig's campaign and his grassroots efforts, saying he believes the hard work with translate to victory for Herbig, if not in an outright victory in the Aug. 28 primary then in the November general elections.
Herbig is among six candidates vying for mayor with no incumbent in the mix, with current Mayor Jim Hathaway announcing in May he was not going to seek a third two-year term.
If Herbig were to garner 50 percent of the overall votes plus one more in the primary, then he would become the mayor-elect. But if he or anyone else who wins the primary falls short of the threshold for outright victory, then the top two vote-getters would square off in the general elections in November.
Gibson isn't ready to predict outright victory for Herbig, but he feels if anyone can do it, it's Herbig.
Ellen Darden, a political consultant and local Republican from New Smyrna Beach was at Herbig's meet-and-greet, describing the atmosphere as "electric."
"You could feel all of that positive energy throughout the place," Darden said, adding perhaps the key moment in the two-hour event was the arrival of the Port Orange councilman, Tramont, in what has been dubbed the "meeting of the two Chases."
Like two combatants at a UFC main event, they faced each other in the center of the crowd as if they were in the octagon. Except the two Chases are not opponents. They do have three things in common, though.
• They'be both named Chase;
• They're both running for an elective office;
• They're both very popular in their home cities, though Tramont had a two-year head start in elected office, having won his first time out while Herbig is in his maiden run.
Tramont won handily two years ago for the remaining two years of the district 2 seat that his predecessor Don Burnette gave up to run for mayor. Burnette won the mayor's race in Port Orange and Tramont easily won too.