Jax – Florida Politics

Jacksonville police union backs Doyle Carter, Jerry Holland in citywide races

The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police endorsed reliable career politicians Thursday for citywide office.

Jacksonville City Councilman Doyle Carter got the nod for tax collector, besting fellow Republicans Lake Ray and Jim Overton, as well as Democrat Mia Jones.

And Jerry Holland will be backed by the blue in his re-election bid for property appraiser, a cakewalk race against longshot Democrat Kurt Kraft.

“I’m humbled and honored to receive the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police Jacksonville, FL Lodge 5-30. I stand with our brave men and women of law enforcement,” Carter posted to Facebook.

Holland dubbed it a “honor to receive today the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jacksonville FL Lodge 5-30 for my reelection next spring for Duval County Property Appraiser.

“They have stood with me in every election through out my public service career. I appreciate each member for the awesome job they do keeping our community safe. Thank you again to the men and women in blue and may God bless you,” Holland said.

Carter is running third in tax collector race fundraising, as two of four candidates seek to emerge from the August primary and onto the November ballot.

Holland has raised $123,445 for his March race against an opponent who has $120 on hand.

Lenny Curry defends Rick Scott’s Terrance Freeman appointment to Jacksonville City Council

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry celebrated his birthday by hosting a “Stories for Toddlers” event at the Jacksonville Main Library.

But questions remain about a gift bestowed on the citizens of Jacksonville City Council District 10, in the form of a Republican appointed to represent the predominately Democratic district in the wake of their councilman’s suspension.

Terrance Freeman, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last week to replace District 10’s suspended federal indictee Reggie Brown, faces a legal challenge to his position. A local Democrat contends that Freeman is not a District 10 resident, despite having moved to the district the day Scott announced the appointment.

The city of Jacksonville has sought to intervene in the suit, citing charter issues.

Both city and state officials defend the appointment of Freeman, who has retained high-powered representation in the form of Rep. Paul Renner and Lindsay Brock.

Meanwhile, Terrell Hogan (the plaintiff’s lawyers) sent a public records request to the city this week, seeking documentation of the process relative to the appointment, Freeman, and the appointment process in District 8 (where Democrat Ju’Coby Pittman was chosen to replace suspended Katrina Brown).

Curry, not surprisingly, likewise defended the process, even as he maintained he had nothing personally to do with Freeman’s selection.

“I didn’t talk to the governor or his folks about Terrance,” Curry said.  “There was a list of good qualified applicants and I think in both cases, the governor made a choice of good qualified people … who will represent the people in those districts.”

Staff, said Curry, handled discussions with Tallahassee.

“I’m sure that members of my team were talking to members of his team about any list. There were a whole bunch of folks that applied that I thought were good smart people. In the end,” Curry said, “the governor made his decision, and I thought he picked two good people.”

Curry, when asked about the city intervening in the case, deferred questions to the Office of General Counsel, but did say “the charter is what dictates this.”

Curry also added that, while he hasn’t talked to Freeman or Pittman about their political futures, that he would “absolutely engage in places where I believe in people that would be good for Jacksonville.”

Indeed, Curry has already cut an ad supporting Wyman Duggan in House District 15, which he defended on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Freeman has a town hall at 6:30 Thursday evening at the Legends Center in NW Jacksonville, his first opportunity to do such with his new constituents.

NRA pulls Fred Costello endorsement, A grade because of differences on post-Parkland legislation

Former State Rep. Fred Costello, in what a poll says is a tight three-way GOP race in Florida’s Congressional District 6, on Wednesday claimed an endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

However, current NRA grades tell a different story, with that A replaced by a ? on one website.

The NRA, per Costello, pulled a switcheroo.

Costello explained that the NRA “pulled their Endorsement later in the day … due to my honestly saying I would have voted for the Parkland bill in spite of not liking all the provisions.”

“I talked to the NRA this morning and am working on getting my earned ‘A’ back, without the endorsement. Time will tell,” Costello said.

It remains to be seen if the NRA will extend this policy to others who supported the legislation, including Senate candidate Rick Scott, who signed the bill yet has the coveted A+

The endorsement would be a valuable chit in a race to the right for the nomination to replace Rep. Ron DeSantis in the district, which includes southern St. Johns, and portions of Flagler, Lake and Volusia Counties.

This is, thus far, an expensive race. Mike Waltz and John Ward, including self-financing, each have brought over $1M into their campaign accounts. Costello, with deeper roots in the district, has maintained poll parity with just $179,000 raised.

When contacted, Costello provided visual evidence of his endorsement, which contravened what is currently live on the NRA-PVF grades site. The discrepancy is evidenced below.

We have reached out to the NRA Political Victory Fund for more information regarding the discrepancy. Expect updates as provided.

‘March for Our Lives’ tour to roll into Jacksonville next week

In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February, a group of MSD teens galvanized into political action.

That action has led to synchronized rallies around the country promoting gun restrictions.  The group comes to the Jacksonville Landing next Friday, where it and the local March for Our Lives chapter will present what is being called Road to Change Jax Festival.

The event begins at 11 a.m. July 27, and will include the activists, along with representatives from the Women’s March and the ACLU.

Local musicians will perform, and there will be merchandise giveaways.

The tour stop is one of 15 Florida dates the group will make, ending its Sunshine State stops in Pensacola July 30.

Ron DeSantis plans Jacksonville area events Saturday

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is looking increasingly like the front-runner in the Republican race for Governor, plans a Saturday morning meet-and-greet in downtown Jacksonville.

The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at the Local at 4578 San Jose Blvd.

DeSantis will follow that event up with an afternoon engagement at La Nopalera in Orange Park.

A new poll has DeSantis leading the race by a 42 to 30 percent margin, an indication that as the pool of undecided voters becomes more shallow, DeSantis’ support deepens.

That survey confirms consultant reports of myriad internal polls that have shown a pro-DeSantis trend.

Putnam held a public event in Jacksonville late last week; however, attendance was down from previous Putnam stops, with only two incumbent politicians showing — a drop from previous events where Putnam had strong showings from the elected class.

Putnam, when asked if he worried that the campaign was slipping away, said “I wake up every day worried. I’m fighting to the bitter end.”

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ last visit to the Jacksonville area, in late June, happened just as momentum in the race was beginning to turn.

A combative DeSantis let loose with sharp comments about Putnam in the press availability: “[Putnam] has been running for office since he was 22 … has not had a career outside of politics, he inherited his money, he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

“I’m somebody who was a blue-collar kid. I started making six dollars an hour. I worked myself. I got nothing handed to me,” DeSantis said.

“This guy is the consummate career politician, and he’s exactly what’s wrong with modern politics,” DeSantis added.

DeSantis expressed confidence in his strategy, even as polls showed him down double digits at the time.

“I appreciate that people spent a lot of money in April and May, which my opponents did attacking me,” DeSantis said.

“We have a liftoff from the President,” DeSantis added. “You’re going to see a very aggressive campaign when people are paying attention, and I think a couple of weeks from now you’re going to see a very different thing.”

DeSantis, at this writing, appears to be right.

Despite the Chamber of Commerce, dozens of sheriffs, and police unions backing Putnam, DeSantis — backed by Trump, road-tested on Fox News — appears to be making the sale with voters as they tune into the race.

The showing in Jacksonville Saturday morning will provide evidence on that point, one way or another.

Vets group backs Jimmy Peluso for Jacksonville City Council

A prominent national group supporting the election of military veterans to public office weighed into a Jacksonville City Council race Wednesday.

VoteVets, a self-styled “progressive” group that touts endorsements of both Democrats and Republicans, backs Democrat Jimmy Peluso in Jacksonville City Council District 14.

“Having our veterans represented in office could not be more critical than it is now,” said VoteVets National Field Director, Rick Hegdahl.

“We know that veterans like Jimmy have the knowledge garnered from a wide range of experiences that are so sorely needed at every level of our government. Because we believe in Jimmy’s ability and commitment to lead, we are pleased to select him as a VoteVets PAC Emerging Leader,” Hegdahl added.

Peluso, running a thus-far distant third in the money race behind Republican Randy DeFoor and Democrat Sunny Gettinger, intends to message strongly around his military background, as he did in this endorsement release.

“As a veteran,” Peluso said, “one of the most rewarding aspects of this campaign has been the strong outpouring of support from my military friends and family. Shipmates from my first sea tour  have donated, come out to events, and have shared our campaign’s message to fellow veterans.”

“I am honored to have the support of VoteVets and to join the thousands of veterans across the country who are running for office. Public service is a calling and I was proud to wear my uniform for six years,” Peluso said, adding that “now I’m ready to serve the city and the people of Jacksonville.”

Five candidates total are vying for what will be an open seat in the Jacksonville district that runs from Riverside to the Naval Air Station. In addition to the aforementioned three, longshot Republicans Earl Testy and Henry Mooneyhan are in the mix.

The first election, which involves all five, is in March 2019. If no one gets a simple majority of votes, the top two finishers move to a runoff in May.

Who you know: Wyman Duggan ad highlights Lenny Curry connection

With the Republican primary just six weeks away, candidate Wyman Duggan released the first television ad in the competitive three-way GOP primary in House District 15.

Central to the ad: one of his key supporters, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Curry vouches for “principled conservative” Duggan, stressing the importance of “having conservatives we can trust fighting for our shared values.”

The ad asserts that Duggan is endorsed by the NRA, stands with President Donald Trump and opposes “sanctuary cities,” of which there are none currently in Florida.

Duggan will be up on television through the primary, with this and other spots.

Among the GOP field, Duggan is uniquely positioned to go on TV. As of the July 13 finance report, he had almost $123,000 on hand, with opponents Mark Zeigler ($32,482 on hand) and Joseph Hogan ($12,537) well behind.

Democrat Tracye Polson, with $127,000 on hand, still holds a narrowing cash lead against the Republican field.

If Polson/Duggan is the general election, expect this to be one of the most expensive state House races in Florida. Polson appears poised to have help, including staffers, from the Florida Democratic Party. Duggan will have all the help he needs from the Jacksonville business and political establishments, along with state interests.

Jacksonville files to intervene in Terrance Freeman appointment challenge

On Tuesday, the city of Jacksonville filed a motion to intervene in a legal challenge of a Jacksonville City Councilman appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Brenda Priestly-Jackson, a Democrat and former Duval County School Board chair who was passed up for the appointment to fill the unexpired term of suspended incumbent Democrat Reggie Brown, charged that Freeman, who established residency in the district by renting two rooms in a private home the day he was appointed last week, was not a legitimate pick because he moved to Northwest Jacksonville solely to serve on the Council.

The city contends that it has leeway to determine residency, and that the suit actually names Freeman as a defendant in his official capacity.

“However, the City contends the controlling law clearly establishes that City Councilmembers’ terms in office do not commence until they have sworn the required oath, among other things. As such, application of City laws, policies and procedures will be a critical component of this litigation,” the filing contends.

“While Plaintiff purports to bring her allegations against Councilmember Freeman in his individual capacity, by alleging that he assumed his mantle as an active member of the City Council immediately upon appointment, Plaintiff has actually sued Councilmember Freeman as an active, sitting member of the City Council in his official capacity,” the filing adds.

Jacksonville has, per the filing, an “important governmental interest in participating in discussions, analysis and arguments over the application of its own laws.”

GOP money on both sides of CD 5 Dem primary between Al Lawson, Alvin Brown​

After two quarters, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is behind incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in the money race in Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Brown announced Friday that he had raised over $165,000 in Q2, and had $144,360 cash-on-hand. Lawson, per his FEC report, kept pace with $136,514 raised — and more importantly, holds the COH edge with $219,272 on hand.

However, there is an interesting side story: Prominent Republicans are playing both sides of the Democratic primary in CD 5, with challenger Alvin Brown getting more GOP donor interest by far than incumbent Al Lawson.

Everyone from the woman who got Donald Trump elected in Florida to two major Democratic Congressional leaders gave to Lawson.

The bulk of Lawson’s contributions from individuals, save former Trump Florida campaign chair Susie Wiles, came from Tallahassee in Q2.

Industry PACs ponied up, as did the campaign accounts of Congressional Democratic leaders Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi, the latter of whom was in Jacksonville Friday for an endorsement event.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch donated to Lawson as well.

Of Brown’s contributions, the vast majority ($150,000 in total) were from individual contributors (with the institutional money following the incumbent).

Among Brown’s more interesting Republican contributors: charter school magnate Gary Chartrand, Jacksonville lobbyist Marty FiorentinoPreston Haskell, former Republican Jacksonville City Councilman Stephen Yoost, former CSX President Michael Ward, and former Jaguars’ owner Wayne Weaver.

Prominent Democrats who ponied up: John Podesta, Democratic consultant Ben Pollara, and local NAACP head Isaiah Rumlin, a member of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority board.

Thursday town hall for new Jacksonville City Councilman Terrance Freeman

Constituents in Jacksonville City Council District 10 will have an opportunity Thursday to meet the man Gov. Rick Scott appointed to represent them.

Terrance Freeman, a Republican who up until last week lived in Mandarin in southern Duval County, will meet his new constituents (in a 19 percent Republican district) at the Legends Center.

Event kicks off at 6:30 p.m., at the same location suspended Councilman Reggie Brown, who is facing a federal lawsuit in a scheme to defraud with another suspended colleague, often had his meetings.

Freeman’s appointment has been challenged in court by Brenda Priestly Jackson, a Democrat and former Duval County School Board chair who was passed up for the appointment.

Priestly Jackson and other Democrats charge that Freeman, who, per the city of Jacksonville’s interpretation, established residency in the district by renting two rooms in a private home the day he was appointed last week, was not a legitimate pick because he moved to Northwest Jacksonville solely to serve on the Council.

Freeman was in the process of establishing residency last Tuesday, when he was appointed, and central to the challenge will be determining when his tenure as a Councilman began.

There is some daylight, at least thus far, between the position of the Governor’s Office and city of Jacksonville lawyers.

Freeman was appointed last Tuesday by Gov. Scott, per Communications Director John Tupps.

“The press release announcing the appointment has an effective date of the appointment,” Tupps said.

(We have yet to get clarity, meanwhile, on whether the appointment date would have been effective at 12:00 A.M. July 10, or at 10:18 a.m, when the email was sent out.)

If the appointment is effective when sent out, that arguably contravenes Jacksonville’s general counsel’s position. General Counsel Jason Gabriel noted last week that the threshold for eligibility to serve, per Gabriel, was when Freeman is sworn in — which was Thursday.

District 10 tends to have residents who live in the same neighborhood for generations, and it will be interesting to see how they react to one of their newest residents being appointed to serve them — a fate that could have been avoided, of course, if Reggie Brown had resigned.

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