JAXBIZ, the political committee of the Jacksonville Chamber, issued an unsurprising (but meaningful) endorsement Tuesday for Mayor Lenny Curry‘s re-election.
The group was a major donor to Curry in May, and there has been scant daylight between Curry and the business group since his 2015 campaign (when they endorsed the then-candidate a month before the first election).
Three-and-a-half years later, Curry is taking no chances. The incumbent has raised $2 million since launching his re-election, a ubiquitous presence with television ads — even as no legitimate competition has yet to file to run against him (as City Council President Anna Brosche, a Republican like Curry, mulls a bid for Mayor).
And signaled by the early endorsement: the Chamber isn’t looking to take any chances either. With a functional symbiosis between Curry and the business group, one that will extend to close cooperation over the next year between the Mayor and Council President-designate Aaron Bowman, a VP for the Chamber business recruitment wing JAXUSA, the group made it clear Tuesday that they will staunchly rebuff any challenge to Curry.
When announcing the endorsement, applause filled the room.
Curry quipped that the reaction was “a little different than it was three years ago,” before describing part of the 2015 campaign when he was looking for “endorsements that mattered.”
“This is one that I wanted,” Curry reminisced, before messaging on the successes that will provide the narrative ballast for his re-election messaging, such as pension reform, hiring 180 new police officers, job creation, and downtown development projects ranging from the Laura Street Trio to the amphitheater by the stadium.
And more successes are to come, Curry said, spotlighting cooperation with Bowman as augery of a “year good for Jacksonville.”
One prominent political opponent of Curry’s discounts the importance of the endorsement, framing it as a distraction from his failure as mayor.
“Listen, the guy filed for reelection over a year out from the election, a clear sign he’s running scared. TV commercials running a year before the election and commanding endorsements against a field of unfunded opponents will not mask how Lenny has failed as Mayor,” said Finance Chair Garrett Dennis Tuesday.
“Under Lenny, crime in the city is at an all-time high, he botched the sale of JEA, he’s picking fights and bullying everyone in town, and he is at the center of cronyism benefiting a chosen few. It’s no wonder his poll numbers are falling fast. I’m predicting that he will be a one-term Mayor: One City. One Jacksonville. One Term,” Dennis added.
Curry and Jax Chamber CEO Daniel Davis rejected such contentions in a post-endorsement gaggle.
Davis cited “great momentum” in the city of Jacksonville and the need for “four more years of that.”
“It’s very clear we’ve got a great working relationship with the mayor,” Davis emphasized. “Today we’re talking about momentum in Jacksonville, what the mayor is doing to push that momentum, we’re excited to be part of that.”
Curry likewise dismissed Dennis’ contentions, noting that “anybody who’s watched me for three years or known me the decade before that knows that’s just how I’m built. There’s a lot of work to be done. I take nothing for granted.”
“The record is clear and I just want to make sure the people of Jacksonville know that I’ve delivered on everything I said I’d deliver, but I’m not resting on that,” Curry said.
“The best is yet to come,” Curry emphasized.