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Jacksonville City Councilors Tommy Hazouri, Danny Becton wow with June fundraising

As the latest Jacksonville booster slogan goes, “It’s easier here.” And that especially holds true for City Councilmen running for re-election without opposition, particularly if they have gone along with the money’s agenda for three years.

Exhibit A: former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri, a Democrat seeking a second term.

Hazouri notably scrapped with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in his first year in office, but fell in line when it became time to sell the 2016 pension-reform referendum, including fundraising for and cutting an ad for the push.

The reward: boffo June fundraising.

The Hazouri haul of $55,285 was boosted by money from Republican donors, including $500 and $1,000 contributions from multiple companies related to the deep-pocketed best bet empire, Preston Haskell, former Donald Trump Florida campaign chair Susie Wiles, former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton‘s Gate Petroleum, J.B. Coxwell Contracting, and Peter Rummell.

Yes, some key Democrats gave too. But the message is clear: Hazouri got with the program in 2016 and 2017, and gets the checks in 2018 and 2019. It will be tough for a Republican to run against him.

Exhibit B… but with some caveats: Republican Councilman Danny Becton, who launched strong ($62,745), but — ironically enough — with many different backers, with some key Curry backers holding off in his firs

Yes, Becton had the best bet money.  And Michael Munz, a key Curry backer, also ponied up. But Haskell, Wiles, et al did not.

Becton did have money, however, from Sleiman Holdings: an interesting donor, especially in light of Sleiman and the city of Jacksonville’s continuing legal wrangle over the future of the Jacksonville Landing.

Becton has been known to raise fits before: his cavils on Council committees sounded a rare discordant note ahead of the city’s decision to drop $45 million into the latest round of improvements at the Sports Complex. And his push to put more money toward pension obligations likewise went over poorly with the Mayor’s Office.

Worth watching: will more of Curry’s base fall in line behind Becton? Or might a candidate emerge to challenge and to collect that institutional money?

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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