A.G. Gancarski – Page 6 – Florida Politics

A.G. Gancarski

Clay Yarborough expands cash lead over Democratic challenger in HD 12

Rep. Clay Yarborough, a first-term Republican incumbent in Southside Jacksonville’s House District 12, put more distance between himself and Democratic challenger Tim Yost with May fundraising.

Yarborough brought in $5,400 off of eight contributions, including maximum $1,000 contributions from Chemours, Advance America, and Comcast

Yarborough has over $105,000 on hand, and no primary competition, as he prepares for a general election clash with Yost.

The Democrat brought in $410 in May from six cash contributors, pushing him over $3,600 cash on hand.

Yarborough, who has never lost a campaign for office, is well-positioned for November at this writing.

Lenny Curry has now raised more than $2M for re-election campaign

Viable competition has yet to emerge for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in his 2019 re-election bid, but that didn’t stop him from another aggressive month of fundraising in May.

Curry ended the month having raised $2 million between his campaign account and that of his political committee, Jacksonville on the Rise.

The committee was the more active of the two entities, bringing in $201,000, with five-figure donations from the Republican Party of Florida and JAXBIZ (the Jacksonville Chamber’s political arm) highlighting the take.

Also of interest: $12,500 from Tampa’s DeBartolo Development and $10,000 from Alfred Benesch and Company, Chicago civil engineers who have a shingle in Jacksonville also.

Jacksonville on the Rise spent $179,000 in May, including survey and research from Data Targeting and a $140,000 TV ad buy.

All told, the commitee has nearly $1.3 million on hand.

Curry’s campaign account added another $32,500 off of 58 contributions, with construction and civil engineering interests represented robustly in the May receipts, bringing it up to $325,000 on hand.

Another positive augury: trial lawyers Farah and Farah gave $25,000 to another Curry committee, spurring hopes among supporters that more trial lawyer cash will move Curry’s way in upcoming reporting periods.

With well over $1.6 million on hand between the accounts, Curry is well-positioned against what is thus far a disparate field of candidates with limited fundraising, as political watchers wait and see if City Council President Anna Brosche will actually get into the race.

Field expands: 29 pols clamor for gubernatorial ​Jacksonville City Council appointments

Less than a week ago, Gov. Rick Scott suspended two Jacksonville City Council members who face 38 federal counts in a scheme to defraud local and federal taxpayers.

That suspension created two vacancies that, as of Friday afternoon, have 29 applicants.

The replacements for suspended Democrats Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown will be picked by Scott. They would serve until/unless the individual Council members are exonerated, or the installation of 2019 electeds on July 1 — whichever comes first.

And, as of Friday afternoon, what was clear was that Scott will have a lot of candidates from which to select.

The list: Darrin Williams, Terrance BrisbaneBrenda Priestly JacksonJu’coby PittmanTameka HollyCelestine Mills, Terry Fields, Angela NixonChristopher PendletonJean TranquilleRandolph HallCharles Barr, James GreinerKeshan Chambliss, Rahman JohnsonClarence JamesDwight BrisbaneNiki BrunsonRalph ChaversCornelius CoxTheresa GrahamKing HolzendorfKevin Monroe, Latangie WilliamsChandra Griffin, Charles Barr, Ralph Chavers and Pat Lockett-Felder.

A number of these candidates are familiar to Jacksonville political watchers.

Priestly-Jackson was a former School Board chair. Pittman: a former 2015 Council candidate. Holly: a current candidate in District 8. Mills: a past and present candidate in District 10.

Fields was a former state Representative and a 2015 City Council candidate. Nixon: a well-known political operative for Democratic candidates. Johnson: a former Soil and Water board member.

Brisbane: an operative/consultant. Brunson and Graham: former candidates for Council. Monroe: current candidate for Council in District 10.

Lockett-Felder, who lost narrowly to Katrina Brown in District 8’s 2015 race, was the biggest name candidate to indicate interest Friday, as part of a group of six new hopefuls.

Expect more names to show interest; the Governor’s Office is still accepting applications.

Alvin Brown’s Pride Month statement recalls his mayoral inaction on LGBT issues

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, primarying incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, issued a lengthy statement Friday in support of Pride Month.

“During LGBTQ Pride Month, Americans recognize and reaffirm the right of all people to life, liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness. It was during this month in 1969 that LGBTQ Americans stood against brutality and violence outside the Stonewall Inn. Today, we continue the fight to ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the law and have access to the same opportunities and resources,” Brown, a mayor of Jacksonville from 2011 to 2015, asserted.

Brown continued: “I firmly believe no one should face discrimination, bullying or violence because of who they are or who they love. In Congress, I will fight for policies that ensure equal treatment that’s inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, including in established policies like the Fair Housing and Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

For Jacksonville Democrats with memories that go back a few years, Brown’s words may seem like policy evolution.

They may recall that in 2012, the Jacksonville City Council had a vote on a then-controversial measure: expanding the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to include protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations to the LGBT community.

Brown, a Democrat, would have seemed uniquely positioned to ensure the measure passed. However, as locals recall, the measure failed 9-10, with Democrat Johnny Gaffney initially saying he was confused during the vote, before eventually saying (in 2015, while endorsing Brown’s opponent) that he was leaned on to vote no.

“There was pressure to not vote for it,” Gaffney said,

“Whether you’re for it or not for it, be transparent,” Gaffney said. “Was the administration transparent?”

Another Council Democrat at the time, Denise Lee, said rumors were that Brown pushed Gaffney not to vote for it, that rumors were that “Gaffney was pressured to change his mind,” and that rumors said that he would veto it if it passed (an echo of persistent rumors since 2012).

Some, noting that Gaffney and Lee now work for the Mayor who defeated Brown, will take these assertions with a grain of salt.

However, what is clear is that Brown, who had most of three years to negotiate a workable bill, failed to … even as he told one local reporter that HRO may be a “second-term issue” during the re-election campaign.

Brown’s re-election bid came after three years of being the most nonpartisan Democratic mayor possible.

He rarely missed a photo op with Gov. Rick Scott, but was somehow absent during a 2012 President Barack Obama rally in Jacksonville. And, as a result of his Clintonian triangulation, Brown left himself open to being outflanked on the left by a Republican candidate, Councilman Bill Bishop, who rhetorically committed to HRO passage.

Brown, in his debates throughout the mayor’s race, was reticent to recommend a change to a law that had been a hot topic for his entire mayoralty. And his unwillingness to take a position left him open to attacks from Republican Lenny Curry.

“I’m not convinced that we need to change the law,” Curry said, adding during one debate that Brown was “punting on the issue,” and demonstrating “zero accountability.”

Ultimately, Brown lost the election, despite the best efforts of the Florida Democratic Party to pull him through.

And a big part of the reason he lost was, in an effort to pander to the religious right, Brown neglected protections of LGBT rights.

As the Human Rights Campaign reported, Jacksonville performed anemically during the Brown era on its 100-point municipal scorecard.

The city scored a meager 23 in 2015, and 20 points in 2014. By 2017, the city was up to 67 out of 100 — an irony, given the mayor during that numerical gain won despite not supporting an expansion of the HRO.

Some may wonder why Alvin Brown’s desire to fight for “policies that ensure equal treatment that’s inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity” didn’t surface when he was Mayor, and indeed took three years after his election loss to emerge.

We reached out to Brown’s campaign Friday afternoon, but they did not respond to inquiries.

Survey says Philip Levine building lead over Democratic field

A survey of 600 Democratic voters shows that Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine continues to build his lead over Democratic opponents in the race for governor.

The poll, conducted this week by SEA Polling & Strategic Design, shows Levine with 32 percent of those surveyed, doubling up on Gwen Graham at 16 percent.

Andrew Gillum, with 11 percent, was in third, ahead of Chris King and Jeff Greene at six and four percent respectively.

31 percent of those surveyed were undecided.

Levine’s dominance is rooted in strong performances in Miami/Fort Lauderdale (where he has 47 percent support, per the survey) and the Tampa market (37 percent). In both regions, he is well ahead of Graham (13 percent in South Florida, and 20 percent in the Tampa area).

More closely contested: the Orlando market.

Andrew Gillum leads in that region with 19 percent, one point above Levine, with Graham and King at 12 and 11 percent respectively.


Philip Levine rolls out cannabis legalization proposal

On Friday, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — a Democratic candidate for Governor — rolled out his proposal to legalize the sale of adult-use cannabis.

“If elected Governor,” Levine tweeted, “I will carefully move to legalize the sale of limited quantities recreational marijuana for adults.”

“Careful means controlled,” Levine said, with “highly regulated” sales and distribution and bans of sales to those under 21.

Local control, regarding size and locations of outlets, would be protected.

“Through responsible reform,” Levine added, “Florida can generate $600 million annually.”

Levine is not the only Democrat in the race open to legalization: Chris King and Andrew Gillum share that position.

But as he leads in polls currently, and in fundraising, Levine may be the best hope for legalization advocates to carry the banner of cannabis legalization into the November election.

The Levine plan would fund investments of $300 million annually into community health and substance abuse, and $300 million per year for additional funding for public schools, per a media release from his campaign. As well, Levine asserts that $3.9 billion per year could be saved off Medicaid, with more savings in the prison system.

Levine, who decriminalized cannabis possession as mayor, clearly sees no political detriment to taking a full-scale position in favor of regulated legalization.

Civil liberties, Levine asserts, also are paramount to the proposal.

“Finally, and morally, this is the right thing to do as today black Floridians are 4 times more likely to be arrested than whites for drug possession in some counties. As a result, our minority communities grow to distrust the police, and their neighborhoods are over-policed while ruining employment opportunities,” Levine said.

“This is a wrong that must be righted.”

Scott Wilson backs Doyle Carter’s Duval Co. Tax Collector bid

Another day, another significant endorsement for Jacksonville City Councilman Doyle Carter as he vies for the Duval County Tax Collector position.

Friday brought an endorsement for Carter from fellow Council Republican Scott Wilson, the Vice President-designate of the city’s legislative body.

This follows up a Thursday endorsement from Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

Carter is running against two other political veterans, Lake Ray and Jim Overton, in the GOP field. As well, Democrat Mia Jones is running, with the top two finishers moving on to the November ballot (regardless of party identification.

Ray is a former state Representative, Jacksonville City Councilman, and congressional candidate. Overton is a former Councilman, as well as a three-term Duval County Property Appraiser. Jones, like Ray, served on both the Jacksonville City Council and in the Florida House.

None of the four candidates announced May fundraising totals as of Friday morning.

Ray and Overton both banked $50,000 in April; Carter and Jones have yet to report any fundraising.

Jacksonville Republicans LeAnna Cumber, Randy White build nest eggs in City Council bids

Two Jacksonville Republicans, one effectively running unopposed and one actually running unopposed, continued to build their nest eggs in first-time City Council bids in May.

In District 5,  LeAnna Cumber added $1,000 to her total off three May donations, as she vies to succeed termed-out Lori Boyer.

Cumber, connected to Mayor Lenny Curry, has raised $180,855 total and has over $173,000 on hand.

Cumber’s sole opponent, Democrat James Jacobs, hasn’t reported May fundraising yet. At the end of April, Jacobs had less than $500 on hand.

Randy White, running unopposed to succeed tax collector candidate Doyle Carter, added $2,400 in May.

The Westside Republican received six donations, including one from Duval County Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell, pushing him over $85,000 raised, with $84,000 on hand.

Democratic fundraising surges in race to succeed Jacksonville Councilman Jim Love

The Jacksonville City Council currently, after the suspension of two Democrats, sees a 12-5 advantage for Republicans on the body.

Even in a city where the Republican/Democratic divide often matters less on Council than partisans would expect, that is a matter of concern for Dems.

There aren’t many opportunities for cross-party pickups on the 2019 ballot, especially with the Lenny Curry political machine driving GOP turnout again.

However, one such pickup may be in District 14, where two Democrats look to succeed termed-out Republican Jim Love.

One candidate, Jimmy Peluso, asserted via media release that he raised $27,853 in May from “varied sources, including friends and family, men and women whom Jimmy served with in the Navy, and distinguished Jacksonville community members.”

“I got into this race knowing that while raising money is an important aspect of running, listening to and meeting with the people of District 14 was what was going to set us apart. What we accomplished in May has shown that we can and will do both. We will continue to meet with large donors who care about District 14, we will continue to talk to small business owners who care about District 14 and we will continue to talk with our neighbors who care about District 14,” said Peluso.

“I am proud to have received contributions from 15 active duty service members and veterans, including Admiral Joe Sestak, those who served with me overseas and during my time in service, and most importantly, my father who was a former lieutenant and my commissioning officer,” Peluso added.

“If there is one thing I learned in my service with the Navy, it is that good things are achievable when we all work together, standing side by side. Our campaign has demonstrated that this is what we are committed to do and will continue to do until we win in 2019 to ensure the residents of District 14 have an honest representative that they know and trust,” Peluso concluded.

While Peluso’s first month numbers are the story in District 14 in May, he’s still not even the leading Democratic fundraiser in the field.

That would be Sunny Gettinger, an Ivy-educated former Chair of Riverside Avondale Preservation who is professionally a communications manager for Google Fiber.

Gettinger keeps stringing together strong months, and May was her fourth straight with over $10,000 raised, with a total haul of $13,020 off of 50 contributions (many of them from outside of Jacksonville).

Gettinger entered June with roughly $65,000 on hand.

While both Peluso and Gettinger are still significantly behind Republican Randy DeFoor, who has $107,000 on hand, what’s clear is that District 14 is one of the rare Council races this cycle where three candidates are showing strong fundraising and early organization.

Jacksonville Councilman Al Ferraro’s re-election bid gets Aaron Bean committee cash

Jacksonville City Councilman Al Ferraro, a first-term Republican who aligns with Mayor Lenny Curry on issues, continued his slow but steady re-election fundraising last month.

Ferraro brought in $5,500 off nine contributions in May, the lowest total of the four months he has been a candidate.

However, Ferraro’s donations, typical of a reliable incumbent, include contributions from familiar names in the community.

The “Florida Conservative Alliance,” the political committee of Sen. Aaron Bean, donated the maximum $1,000 t0 Ferraro’s effort. As did Patricia Rutherford, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Rutherford.

Ferraro has one opponent on the 2019 ballot: perennial candidate Jack Daniels.

The intoxicatingly-named underdog endorsed Ferraro in 2015.

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