Duval County was the epicenter of some of the most savage attacks against Ron DeSantis in the Republican Gubernatorial primary.
Many prominent Republicans, including U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, state Sen. Aaron Bean, state Rep. Cord Byrd, and Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman, strongly backed Adam Putnam.
However, the candidate who “knew Florida best” didn’t prevail. And Jacksonville area Republicans will have a chance Wednesday to get right with the nominee, via a star-studded funder at the tony Ponte Vedra Country Club.
DeSantis has at least one other campaign stop in the Jacksonville market Wednesday, an afternoon visit to JAXPORT. However, the fundraiser was on the books for weeks before that was slated. Lt. Gov. nominee Jeannette Nunez, meanwhile, will be in Nassau County on Wednesday, suggesting she will end up at the Ponte Vedra event also.
Driving DeSantis’ Northeast Florida finance efforts: Kent Stermon, John Rood, and Jay Demetree. Expectations are that this event could exceed Rick Scott‘s take eight years ago in similar circumstances.
DeSantis, who at least temporarily is behind Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in fundraising, will seek to close the gap with the help of some of Jacksonville’s deepest pocketed patrons and most prominent local pols.
The host committee (still in formation) includes local powerbrokers: JEA Board member Husein Cumber (a strong fundraiser going back to the George W. Bush administration) is on board, as is lobbyist Marty Fiorentino, and Jamie and Ali Shelton of bestbet fame, the aforementioned Stermon/Rood/Demetree troika.
Also expected to be on board: Peter Rummell and Tom Petway, two more bulwarks of the Northeast Florida donor class.
Co-chairs include former Duval GOP Chair John Falconetti and former Congressional candidate Hans Tanzler III.
But it’s the honorary host category that shows the greatest party unity, as many of its members were on Team Putnam.
Sen. Aaron Bean, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, and former U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw are all now on DeSantis’ side, joining Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams, and Rep. Travis Cummings (who endorsed DeSantis before the primary).
The decision is pragmatic. Where else are they going to go?
But after a vituperative primary fight, one full of colorful turns of phrase and de rigueur character assassination, it’s worth noting how quickly the healing begins for Duval Republicans.
For those interested in RSVPing, contact Brianna Jordan (Brianna@FrontStreetFlorida.com) or Heather Barker (Heather@RonDeSantis.com).