Rep. Paul Renner, a Republican representing Palm Coast, will speak in Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon at the Southside Business Men’s Club.
Renner, a Jacksonville lawyer, is in line to become House Speaker in 2022 — a long-awaited return to power in Tallahassee for the Jacksonville political class, which still yearns for the days of Jim King and John Thrasher.
Renner, a close ally of current House Speaker Richard Corcoran and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is starting to demonstrate big-league fundraising ability.
October saw $108,000 course into Renner’s political committees, “Florida Foundation for Liberty” and “Conservatives for Principled Leadership.” Defending a safe seat in a deep red district, that money isn’t needed for Renner’s own re-election; he can dole it out to allies and causes with which he accords.
Some of those causes may conflict with those of Jacksonville.
Flagler Live reported last month about a “startling avowal” from Renner, in favor of pre-emption of local ordinances over “home rule” — a concept cherished by local legislators, such as those on the Jacksonville City Council.
“Part of this, to be real blunt about it,” Renner said, “what you’re seeing and this is part of a larger conversation could have is the concentration of support for a more center-left or left-wing viewpoint, and this is again not Flagler County, but our major cities, San Francisco, New York. The Democrat Party has really become a party of dense urban areas and the rest of the country tends to be more conservative, more Republican.
“So part of the fight, part of the sub-context of this whole discussion, is the reason we think they’re going rogue is because it’s Bernie Sanders in charge of your local city government or county government in some cases, and doing things that really are sharp departures from the way the country has become so prosperous, so strong and so free, and so states are stepping in to say, look, we’re not going to let you destroy all the good work that we’re doing and all the economic growth we’re creating in the state for people by trying to ban or shut down particular industries that you don’t like,” Renner added.
Some have interpreted Renner’s rhetorical broadside against “rogue” cities as a potential assault on ordinances such as Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance, recently expanded to protect the rights of LGBT people to employment, housing, and public accommodations.
There has also been narrative divergence about how timely the support of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was for Renner as the jockeying for leadership progressed in the spring and early summer.
Curry was instrumental in a fundraiser that raised $250,000 for Renner’s committees.
“I engaged,” Curry said, “and my political operation engaged.”
Others have groused, quietly but persistently, that ‘Team Curry’ didn’t engage quickly enough.
Expect audience questions at the Southside Business Men’s Club Wednesday on these and related topics.
The meeting is members-only and takes place starting with lunch service at 11:30 a.m. at the San Jose Country Club.