A.G. Gancarski – Page 6 – Florida Politics

A.G. Gancarski

Duval GOP to vote to expel statewide Young Republican chair from its executive committee

The internecine battles continue in the Republican Party of Duval County. The latest involves the county chair looking to purge the statewide chair of the Young Republicans.

County chair Karyn Morton wrote Florida Federation of Young Republicans chair Robbie Foster March 3, informing him of a motion to vote him out March 19.

The cause: “highly disruptive outbursts” at the January meeting of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee. These were, per Morton, “the culmination of a pattern of disruptions over the past year … very loud outbursts and vulgar language … erratic behavior” that “frightened” REC stalwarts.

Morton offered Foster the chance to “avoid further embarassment” by resigning before the March meeting.

Foster has no intention of resigning, he told Florida Politics on Tuesday afternoon.

In fact, he sees the putsch as symbolic of a deeper issue with Morton’s leadership.

“With ever increasing news stories about how much the GOP has an uphill battle in front of us with the 2018 elections, it’s unbelievable that this is the nonsense that Chair Karyn Morton chooses to spend the Duval GOP’s time and efforts on,” Foster asserted.

“Not on defeating Bill Nelson. Not on electing a Republican Governor. Not on defending three open cabinet seats. No. Karyn is dedicating her efforts to expel someone who first joined in the REC in 2008. Someone who has been volunteering for the rec for a decade. Someone who also happens to be the Chairman of the Florida Young Republicans.”

“Way to court the youth vote, Karyn,” Foster quipped.

Foster went on to say Morton was “running the party into the ground.”

“Being REC chair of such a large and strategically important city such as Jacksonville is an awesome responsibility. I’ve seen some amazing people lead the party successfully. Since Karyn became chair she has demonstrated she is not up to the task. She has driven the party into the ground. Driven away donors so necessary to our grassroots efforts and driven away so many volunteers necessary to execute those grassroots efforts,” Foster said.

“And now she’s trying to expel someone who hasn’t left. Who has stayed because I hate to see an organization I’ve dedicated a decade of my life to fall apart and go from powerhouse to irrelevant at best and a joke at worst,” Foster added.

We await comment from the Duval GOP.

Jacksonville City Councilors Katrina Brown, Al Ferraro launch re-election bids

Let the “four more years” chants begin for two first-term Jacksonville City Council members.

On Tuesday, Democratic Councilwoman Katrina Brown launched her bid for re-election in District 8. Days before that, Republican Al Ferraro launched his re-election bid in District 2.

Brown and Ferraro face different paths to re-election.

Brown has issues other incumbents don’t. She has run afoul of the police union and has gotten tough coverage for a failed economic development deal from her family businesses.

Because of these perceived vulnerabilities, Brown faces a bevy of challengers: Diallo SekouSeabrooksMichael Sell, Brandon ByersJoenetta DixonTameka Gaines Holly, and Albert Wilcox are all in the race against her.

There had been some doubt as to whether Brown would run again or not, at least according to various opponents and consultants.

Brown didn’t address the issue last time we asked her about it in mid-January. Though in the form of a candidate looking for another term, she has consistently trumpeted her achievements on social media.

Jacksonville municipal elections involve a “first election” in March, a blanket primary that sees the top two finishers move on to the May election, assuming no one clears 50 percent + 1 in March.

Expect the District 8 race to go the distance.

In Ferraro’s race, one can expect much less drama.

Ferraro has been a steady presence for his district in council, advocating for issues such as drainage and other infrastructure.

His district is heavily Republican, and he is so far unopposed.

Kim Daniels’ NPA challenger touts fundraising in House race

State Rep. Kim Daniels, an iconoclastic Jacksonville Democrat, has the area’s political establishment behind her.

Among her January donors: members of the Rummell family, the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, and local dog track interests.

Daniels has nearly $16,000 cash on hand; however, her NPA opponent, Darcy Richardson, believes that he can be competitive in the November election.

Richardson claims to have raised “more than $6,100 as of yesterday. Most of those contributions will appear on my initial campaign finance filing covering the 12-13 days since opening my campaign account on February 16. The balance — approximately $1,400 — will be reflected in the month of March.”

“That’s more than Republican Christian Whitfield raised during the entire 2016 election cycle. I haven’t begun to do any serious fundraising yet — that’ll happen over the next couple of months — and despite the district’s unfavorable demographics, I’m confident that I’ll be able to raise enough to put up a fight against arguably one of the most reprehensible and outlandish state lawmakers in the country,” Richardson adds.

Jacksonville Democratic activists have discussed primarying Daniels, but any expectations of that should be tempered by the incumbent’s strong community support.

It remains to be seen if Daniels can be capsized by an NPA candidate also.

Don Redman launches Jacksonville City Council run against Matt Carlucci

Of all candidates in the 2019 Jacksonville City Council races, veteran Republican politician Matt Carlucci has the most impressive fundraising: $221,150 raised, with over $208,000 on hand.

Carlucci was alone on the ballot for At-Large Group 4; however, that changed with the filing of another person looking to return to City Council: Don Redman.

Redman, a Republican who represented a Southside Jacksonville district from 2007 to 2015, has been noted for a particular brand of social conservatism.

As the Florida Times-Union reported, he was best known on Council for asking a Muslim to “pray to his God” at the podium during a Council meeting, and asking a lesbian at a different Council meeting if she considered herself male or female.

Most recently, Redman ran in the Republican primary in House District 12, a seat won by Clay Yarborough.

Redman’s fundraising was lackluster; he didn’t even raise $30,000 in the 17-month duration of his campaign. He garnered under 13 percent of the vote for a seat that encompasses his old City Council district.

It remains to be seen if Redman has broad appeal in a citywide race.

Darren Mason launches Jacksonville City Council run

Darren Mason, a former assistant to Jacksonville City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan, is the first Democrat to jump into the 2019 At Large Group 2 race for City Council.

He said he would file on March 1; we interviewed him ahead of time.

Unlike what is the case with some fields in Council races, Mason comes into a race facing serious competition.

Thus far, the race has been between two Republicans, and at least in terms of money, Bill Bishop continues to flail against Ron Salem.

Bishop has under $13,000 on hand; Salem has over $136,000 on hand.

Bishop is just three years removed from a spirited campaign for Mayor; Salem’s campaign is being run by Mayor Lenny Curry’s political guru, Tim Baker of Data Targeting.

Despite this competition, Mason feels confident in his way forward.

“Every candidate gives me the opportunity to develop strategy and showcase my skills to win,” Mason said.

“I respect the experience each candidate will bring to this election,” Mason added. “I look forward to demonstrating my skill set over the course of this campaign to enhance the voice of the City Council for a sustainable Jacksonville.”

“Because elections are about hearing the needs of the community and developing a plan to execute it,” Mason added, “my focus will be to address the issues of Jacksonville citizens.”

Mason said those citizens have inspired his candidacy.

“The residents of Duval County have absolutely inspired me to run, however it’s also more of what has encouraged me. As a native of Jacksonville, I grew up always wondering how can I help serve my community. After Councilwoman Morgan gave me the opportunity to serve as her Executive Council Assistant, I knew I found my path of service,” Mason said.

“Everyday I heard the needs of our community, their concerns became my concerns, and working together to meet their needs has encouraged me to take my public service to the next level.  I want to go from being a helping hand to being that voice for the community,” Mason added.

If the race stays a three-way contest, Mason, as the only Democrat, will be well-positioned to make the runoff.

He says that Democratic players will help him fundraise.

Time will tell if he can get close to Salem territory on the money side.

And to Bishop territory regarding Name Identification.

Fireworks between John Rutherford, Donald Trump in gun control discussion

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford has been a devoted surrogate for President Donald Trump on virtually every issue of note since the two men came into office last year.

But during a Florida-heavy roundtable discussion on gun law reform at the White House Wednesday, Rutherford and Trump had a number of sharp exchanges that were at odds with the attempt at consensus building.

Former Jacksonville Sheriff Rutherford dominated the microphone, with his interactions with Trump taking up seven minutes of the hour discussion.

The first discussion point had to do with “gun free zones,” which Rutherford — a concealed weapon permit holder and enthusiast who backs CWP reciprocity legislation — described as a place where people can “kill at will.”

“The reason I carry a concealed firearm everywhere I go,” Rutherford continued, “is because I don’t know where the gun free zones are. I may be walking through it at the mall, or at the donut shop, or wherever I might be. So that’s why I carry concealed.”

The President pushed back.

“You’re not allowed concealed in a gun free zone,” Trump said, adding that, regarding reciprocity, “you’re not going to get concealed carry approved” as Democrats will oppose it.

Trump did agree that he wanted to get rid of gun free zones, at least on military bases, but Rutherford wasn’t finished.

“Everytime I walk into someplace carrying concealed, I end a gun free zone,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford went on to describe a flaw with the Baker Act: having to give the previously committed person a gun back at the end of his commitment.

“I tried not to do that one time,” Rutherford said. “We lost the case. I had to give the guy his gun back and we got fined.”

From there, Rutherford described the dangers posed by stolen guns, which he said could be curbed with point of sale background checks.

“Here’s what you do. You require a purchaser’s permit at the point of sale of every gun in this country,” Rutherford said.

“I think the NRA would love that,” Trump muttered sarcastically.

“If I don’t have my permit, it’s against the law for him to sell it to me, and against the law for me to buy it,” Rutherford said, noting that unpermitted sales would lead to the possibility of law enforcement going undercover and busting the unpermitted sales.

“You’d have a real black market,” Trump said, “they sell the gun and the buyer doesn’t care and the seller doesn’t. You have that problem with drugs … you’d have the same problem with guns, a black market where people don’t even think of registering.”

Marco Rubio says Parkland murders result of ‘multi-systemic failure’

At a Congressional roundtable Wednesday at the White House, Sen. Marco Rubio described the Parkland murders not as a failure of gun control, but as a “multi-systemic failure.”

“This was a multi-systemic failure,” Rubio said. “The Sheriff’s Office knew this was a problem. The FBI knew this was a problem. The Department of Children and Families knew this was a problem.”

“The big problem is they don’t talk to each other. Nobody told the others what they knew,” Rubio said, before outlining legislative remedies.

One remedy, Rubio said, is live in the House and soon to be live in the Senate: the Stop School Violence Act, sponsored by Rep. John Rutherford in the House.

“The best way to prevent these is to stop it before it starts. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t harden schools. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have debate in other areas … get on them, get them the services they need, and deny them the right to buy any gun,” Rubio said.

“I think that’s something that holds tremendous bipartisan promise,” Rubio said.

The Senator also held up Florida’s proposed reforms in the wake of Parkland as a possible example for the rest of the country.

The plan offers some moves toward gun control: restrictions of purchases by those who have been Baker Acted, as well as a ban on commercial sales to those under 21, and a “bump stock” ban. As well, $450 million for school hardening, and another $50 million for mental health, including overt cooperation between local law enforcement and the DCF.

“We can still debate some of the other things,” Rubio said, “but we owe it to the families.”

The President agreed with the Senator.

Rick Scott pitches gun control, school hardening proposals in Jacksonville market

It’s crunch time in Gov. Rick Scott‘s final Legislative Session, and in the wake of the mass murder in Parkland, a $500 million “school safety” plan is his last big pitch.

The plan has three components: “Gun laws, school safety, and mental health.”

The plan offers some moves toward gun control: restrictions of purchases by those who have been Baker Acted, as well as a ban on commercial sales to those under 21, and a “bump stock” ban.

As well, $500 billion will be allocated for the major action plan.

Of that sum, $450 million will go to “school hardening,” with resource officers in every school, security upgrades ranging from bullet-proof glass to better locks, mental health counselors on campus, and crisis intervention training for all school personnel.

And $50 million more will go to mental health, which will include overt coordination between sheriff’s offices and the Department of Children and Families.

In Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon, Scott pitched the plan.

“This state’s never going to be the same,” Scott said, in the wake of the incident in Parkland two weeks ago and the school hardening and gun control measures proposed.

“It will be virtually impossible for anyone struggling with mental illness or posing a threat to themselves or others to purchase a gun,” Scott said.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams both lauded Scott for leadership on this issue, even as many will wonder why this leadership is happening after seven full years in office, with some saying the Governor is going too far and others saying that these moves don’t rectify the problem at all.

Meanwhile, Scott sidestepped criticisms from Democrats and gun safety advocates on the left that the proposal was inadequate, self-serving, and driven by a need to move to the center ahead of 2018 elections.

“There’s no political calculation here,” Scott said. “I’m the sitting governor, a dad, and a grand dad.”

“I want every child in the state to be safe,” Scott said. “That’s how I came up with my proposal. I listened to the sheriffs and police chiefs, law enforcement. I listened to educators, listened to mental health professionals. I cam up with a proposal that would actually have an impact.”

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature. I know other people will have additional ideas,” Scott added.

Some ideas are clearly off the table.

He didn’t answer our question about an assault weapon ban.

Nor did he address our question regarding the National Rifle Association and its outsized influence on GOP policy proposals.

But Scott’s late-Session foray into the Jacksonville market was intended as a big-picture sales job of achievable reforms, and he will make a similar play in Tampa Wednesday, and other markets through the first few days of March.

Alvin Brown fundraising off of anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, used the anniversary of Trayvon Martin‘s murder six years ago as part of a fundraising pitch Thursday.

Martin, who was gunned down in 2012 by George Zimmerman in Central Florida, was not mentioned in public remarks when Brown was Jacksonville Mayor.

However, Brown’s fundraising appeal in 2018 is a different matter.

“It is hard to believe, six years ago this week Trayvon was fatally shot for what can only be described as ‘looking suspicious.’ We must always take a moment to reflect and remember the loss of lives like Trayvon,” Brown asserted.

“As we have conversations and push for gun reform, it is important to remember the Trayvons. His death and all those highlighted in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and those before them must serve a reminder that reform is needed. No one should be killed or discriminated against because of the color of their skin,” Brown added.

Brown’s mentioning of #BlackLivesMatter was also interesting, given that in the two years in which his tenure as mayor overlapped with the movement, he didn’t mention it explicitly either.

“We must reform our gun laws; we must reform how we are training our police officers; we must reform how we hold people accountable for their actions. In addition, it is time to repeal laws like Florida’s stand your ground law,” Brown wrote just above the DONATE button, completing a fundraising email that was effectively a “chaser” to the “shot” sent out earlier to media, in which he reprised attacks on incumbent Al Lawson, a supporter of “Stand Your Ground.”

“Florida’s dangerous Stand Your Ground law fosters a ‘shoot-first’ mentality and encourages Floridians to murder one another in cold blood. We ought to repeal this reckless law as it undermines public safety, protects bad actors, and perpetuates racial bias. We have a moral responsibility to do all that we can to keep our neighborhoods and children safe — not promote laws that endanger our communities further,” Brown asserted in the media release Tuesday.

Brown has run to the left of Lawson, using the incumbent’s gun positions to define himself, and voicing previously unheard positions in the process.

Aaron Bowman clinches Jacksonville City Council presidency

Jacksonville City Councilman Aaron Bowman secured on Tuesday the ten pledges needed to secure the Council Presidency starting in July.

Jim Love backed his fellow Republican, joining Scott Wilson, Sam Newby, and Reggie Gaffney, who committed last week.

Prior to that, Bowman secured the commitments of former Council Presidents Lori Boyer and Greg Anderson, along with Doyle CarterMatt Schellenberg, and former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri.

“I deeply appreciate the confidence expressed by my colleagues.  Although I will continue to meet with Council members who have yet to pledge support, I will now start to focus on planning for next year. I believe that Jacksonville is at a point in time that we have all of the pieces in place for an amazing period of growth and success. I can’t think of a better group of council members we have in office today to join on this journey,” Bowman said Tuesday.

The coalition of support Bowman has amassed is worth noting, specifically regarding the two most recent past presidents.

Boyer and Anderson worked well with Mayor Lenny Curry during their presidencies; conversely, the Anna Brosche presidency has been a divisive one, with competing narratives between her and fellow Republican Lenny Curry on a variety of issues, including pension reform, children’s program reforms, and exploring the prospect of selling local utility JEA.

By late last week, Brosche was among a cadre of Council members roiled by recent revelations that Curry’s team had been exploring valuations on privatizing assets, including but not limited to JEA.

Bowman, who plays a prominent role in recruiting businesses to come to Jacksonville via the JAXUSA arm of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, takes a different view of the administration’s moves.

He backs exploration of the value of assets.

“The Mayor should be continuously looking at all of the city’s assets and how they can be used to best serve taxpayers. That’s his job,” Bowman told us Thursday.

“And when people call the city about those assets,” Bowman added, “the city needs to do everything it can to gather all of the information available. In my line of work I routinely field calls from people interested in Jacksonville, investing in Jacksonville, and I investigate and answer. To not do so would be derelict on my part.”

Bowman wasn’t through drawing a distinction between his trust of the Mayor’s Office’s intentions and the skepticism that has gripped parts of Council.

“The Mayor’s office did not overstep since it does not have the ultimate authority to enter into any agreement. I appreciate the Mayor always investigating an opportunity to improve our city. I also know many investigations have ended with no action. My interaction with the Mayor has always proven to be data driven and always with the utmost care and respect of our residents. The JEA dealings have not been any different,” Bowman said.

 “I do hope at some time we can actually evaluate the pros and cons, make sure if we did move forward we can protect jobs, rates, and reliability and then if deemed worth pursuing, have a thorough investigation and do what is best for Jacksonville. I honestly can tell you I have no opinion one way or the other where this goes because we have not even pulled back the first layer but I will also say it cannot be a quick, emotional based decision,” Bowman added.

Bowman also stopped short of a full-throated endorsement of proposed revisions to the ethics code.

Spotlighting the JEA sale exploration running parallel to the 2019 elections and temptations for termed out pols, Ethics Director Carla Miller has suggested an overhaul of the city’s ethics code relative to lobbying, dark money, “the revolving door” between legislative and administrative jobs, and other attempts to peddle and exert influence.

“We all want to make sure that city business is done openly and transparently,” Bowman said, “but we need to look at the bigger picture of why we are making changes. In my experience, when we make regulations that are reacting to a specific issue, there can be unintended consequences.”

There are those who grumble quietly that Bowman may be too close to the Mayor. However, with the Council Presidency locked, those grumblings will be for naught.

Curry may bemoan a political hit job from Council. But Aaron Bowman could end up as his enforcer soon enough.

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