Lenny Curry’s 0-for-2 Tuesday – Florida Politics

Lenny Curry’s 0-for-2 Tuesday

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry hasn’t suffered many political setbacks during his two years occupying the fourth floor of City Hall.

But on Tuesday — for the first time since Sen. Marco Rubio‘s presidential dreams were incinerated at Florida ballot boxes almost 18 months prior — Curry’s allies suffered losses (mayoral races in Atlantic Beach and St. Petersburg) where Curry invested political capital.

Curry endorsed losing candidate Mitch Reeves in Atlantic Beach, sending out a mailer from his political committee to drive home that endorsement.

Informed sources knew this wasn’t a bet that would pay off: when the mailpiece dropped, Reeves was down by 20 in one poll. Curry’s endorsement helped Reeves close some of the gap, yet the Atlantic Beach Mayor still lost by 11.

Reeves was dogged by recurrent conflict of interest allegations (the kind that don’t play well in a small-town sandbox), and the final nail in the political coffin may have been how he handled those allegations, as best embodied by a statement released late last week that essentially boiled down to a self-exoneration.

The ethics complaint that the winning candidate filed, Reeves asserted, was a fabrication of  “her paid advisers and their misguided delusions of political glory.”

“Finally, during this campaign,” Reeves continued, “Ms. [Ellen] Glasser has told us all, time and time again, that she is ‘The Ethics Candidate’.  We all should now wonder about the ethics of filing a desperate, last minute, unfounded and politically motivated complaint, based upon speculation instead of evidence, with no regard for the cost to the tax paying people of Atlantic Beach.  The people of Atlantic Beach should ask themselves whether Ms. Glasser was sincerely trying to protect them or seeking to protect her failing campaign.”

Curry’s committee didn’t run Reeves’ campaign, of course; that operation was run by Bert Ralston. Does one imagine Team Curry was pleased by burning an endorsement in a GOP sinecure on an 11 point loss though? Especially one characterized by a last-minute suttee via prepared statement?

As luck would have it, there may (some say) be a near-term battle to watch between Ralston and Curry’s political ops, Tim Baker and Brian Hughes. There are rumors that Ralston would run Cathleen Murphy‘s GOP primary campaign in House District 15, going up against Team Curry’s Wyman Duggan. The winner would fill Rep. Jay Fant‘s shoes in Tallahassee.

In that battle, the war between the operatives likely will be more interesting than any formal debate between the candidates. Ralston and Curry’s operatives have been on a collision course for a while, and the Westside Jacksonville district may be the battlefield where they work out their differences.

Ralston is not involved in HD 15 at this time, he said, and he has never met Murphy. But this level of discussion and intrigue suggests a very competitive race is inevitable.

Another fun fact to mull: Murphy ran comms for the death throes of former State Attorney Angela Corey‘s re-election bid, one lost to a Baker/Hughes candidate (Melissa Nelson) by 38 points.

Rick Baker’s inability to win outright in the St. Petersburg Mayor’s race’s primary election was the farthest thing from a foregone conclusion even weeks ago.

Baker was buoyed by strong polls, an incumbent on the ropes, and candidates attacking that incumbent from the left — and he was confident, asserting that he expected to draw 60 percent of the black vote as a Republican candidate.

Curry brought in $25,000 to Baker’s campaign in July.

This was, of course, before former President Barack Obama waded into the race, endorsing incumbent Rick Kriseman … who went on to win by 69 votes.

Going forward, there is a case that Kriseman took Baker’s best shot and is still standing. One can expect President Obama to surface again, with ubiquitous radio ads and the like during early voting.

Given that Baker is not positioned to get help from the current President — a political poison pill in St. Petersburg — it’s easy to imagine the Obama factor being dispositive down the stretch for the incumbent’s re-election.

Curry loses approximately nothing in all of this. He will find a way to do business with Mayor-elect Glasser in Atlantic Beach, and he will survive no matter who is the mayor of St. Petersburg.

And, beyond readers of this website, few locals will notice the setbacks.

But in each case, political capital was invested. And ultimately there was no direct ROI.

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