Jax – Page 3 – Florida Politics

Nancy Soderberg nears $1M on hand for CD 6 campaign

Democrat and former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg announced Friday that she’d raised another $540,000 for her campaign to flip the Florida’s 6th Congressional District, currently held by exiting U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“We’re seeing incredible support and energy for our campaign to bring real leadership to Central Florida. We’ve continued to build on our broad base of supporters, and day-by-day, people are joining our movement,” Soderberg said.

“Time and again, I hear Florida families in this district voice their concerns about being forgotten and ignored. They want a real leader who will stand up to the special interests in Washington and get results. I’m proud to have their support to bring and be the change that this district needs.”

The $540,000 Q2 performance is her best yet and makes for nearly $1.5 million in total fundraising since she entered the race in July 2017. The campaign finance report is not yet viewable on the Federal Elections Commission website, though the campaign said it finished the quarter with “nearly” $1 million cash on hand.

The campaign had $595,360 on hand at the end of the first quarter.

The fundraising announcement also touted some of Soderberg’s major endorsements, including those of AFSCME Florida and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as her addition to the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” list back in March.

Soderberg faces Stephen Sevigny and John Upchurch in the Democratic primary for CD 6, which covers a stretch of Florida’s east coast from southern Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach.

Sevigny has not yet announced his Q2 numbers, though he posted $250,000, including $50,000 in loans, during the first quarter. He was only a candidate for the final six weeks of that reporting period. Upchurch raised $68,865 in Q2 for a to-date total of $257,728, including $40,000 in loans. He has $171,875 on hand.

Running on the Republican side are former state Rep. Fred Costello, Fox News personality Michael Waltz and businessman John Ward. None of the three have filed announced their Q2 totals, though Waltz and Ward have relied on self-funding to keep pace with Soderberg, who was the fundraising leader at the end of Q1.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, though the odds of it flipping went up significantly after DeSantis announced he would run for Governor rather than for re-election.

Alvin Brown decries algae blooms, says Al Lawson is a Big Sugar pawn

In Florida’s 5th Congressional District, the Democratic primary is continuing to heat up.

Hours before a Friday evening co-appearance in Jacksonville of incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Lawson’s primary opponent — former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown — issued a statement decrying algae blooms in the St. Johns River, and linking Lawson to the polluters who made such possible.

“Yet again, Florida faces a real crisis as toxic algae spread through our waterways, including our beloved St. Johns River. As we’ve seen in recent years, this outbreak can have a devastating effect on our economy, environment and public health at large, and is already impacting tourism across the state,” Brown asserted.

“It is long past time for local, state and federal officials to end the finger-pointing and get serious about the issues hurting Florida communities and families, including our children and seniors. It is shameful that moneyed special interests continue to buy and sell politicians who claim to advocate for the environment but fail to actually deliver on those promises,” Brown added.

“Unlike my opponent who’s firmly in Big Sugar’s pocket, in Congress, I will fight for long-term solutions and take on the polluters poisoning Florida’s most valuable resources and ecosystems, including our coastlines and waterways,” Brown notes.

Lawson has taken $23,500 from the sugar industry since 2016.

It remains to be seen if Jacksonville political audiences will be moved by the Big Sugar attack, given that all three incumbent state officials from the city (Senate Minority Leader-designate Audrey Gibson, Rep. Tracie Davis, and Rep. Kimberly Daniels) have all taken sugar money since June.

Florida Politics is reaching out to Lawson’s team for comment on the Brown criticism.

Jacksonville Bold for 7.13.18 — Media mutters

Next week, the new Jacksonville City Council year begins, and we will (likely) see two new additions.

The names of Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman were leaked Monday to the Jacksonville Daily Record, many hours ahead of the Governor’s official announcement.

Jacksonville’s newest City Council members, Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman.

Someone, for some reason, made the decision to advance the message. Historically the Governor’s Office is pretty leakproof.

Yet it came from somewhere.

Meanwhile, another big story came this week from a different place: Foreign operators fleeced Mayor Lenny Curry’s PAC.

The Florida Times-Union wrote up the story, one that percolated for some weeks in gossip circles. And they got mileage out of it, via publisher GateHouse’s reach and retweets from many key state reporters.

While the story as written was “just the facts,” there was no reason to spice it up; the damning details alone (see below) were enough.

It’s hard, however, to see this story outside of the context of the frayed relationship between the mayor and the news side of the local paper, a war that has run hot and cold for years now.

Curry right now faces no serious competition for re-election, and he has the money to buy ads and steer the 2019 elections, including down-ballot, his way.

But second terms are always interesting in Dirty Duval. The Mayor will want to rebuild relationships with the T-U (and others in the local media, specifically television, who felt bamboozled during the JEA Sale debate).

Will he do so? Probably not. Curry and his inner circle embrace intransigence as a bargaining position, and three years in, they are dug in for trench warfare, with no diplomats in sight.

Pelosi in for Lawson

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, facing a competitive Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District against former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, is bringing in some star power in support Friday.

If the Blue Wave hits, Nancy Pelosi could be Speaker. Al Lawson would vote for her.

That player: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who despite being embattled with prospective leadership challenges from younger members of the Democratic caucus, nonetheless serves a key purpose as a powerful backer of Lawson’s re-election campaign.

Lawson and Pelosi plan a Friday evening press availability at Lawson’s campaign headquarters (1680 Dunn Avenue, Suite 38), along with a meet and greet that kicks off at 5 p.m.

Since Jacksonville Republicans such as Shad Khan have endorsed Brown, Lawson has messaged around the theme of Republicans trying to buy the seat.

With Pelosi at his side, expect Lawson to make similar claims Friday evening.

While we wait on Q2 finance data for Brown and Lawson, Q1 showed parity in cash on hand. Lawson had, at the end of March, $159,000 on hand; Brown, $127,000.

Meanwhile, Brown wants debates with Lawson in each county in the sprawling east-west district.

Godbold backs Brown

On Thursday, former Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold endorsed another former Mayor Brown, for Congress.

Brown, mounting a challenge to Lawson, sees this as a key endorsement.

In a short video, Godbold said he’ll be a “big guy in Congress, and we need somebody from North Florida, somebody from Jacksonville, so we can call him and get in touch with him.”

To watch the video, click the image below:

“Alvin’s a good man,” Godbold added.

Godbold was mayor from 1979 to 1987. Brown, from 2011 to 2015.

Will this make a dent in a news cycle? With Lawson bringing Pelosi to town Friday, and with Brown not exactly publicizing the media event, it could be argued Brown did not maximize the value of this endorsement.

Doctor’s orders

State Sen. Aaron Bean faces both a primary challenge and, if he wins, a general election battle in Senate District 4. However, the Fernandina Beach Republican has advantages his challengers don’t, such as key endorsements.

Expect more endorsements for Aaron Bean ahead of the August primary.

The latest, via the Florida Medical Association PAC, was rolled out Tuesday morning.

Per media release from the Bean Team, FMA PAC President Dr. Mike Patete asserted: “Bean has worked tirelessly for the constituents of his district on many important issues including health care. Serving on various health care committees during his time in the Senate and House, the FMA has worked closely with Senator Bean and we look forward to continuing our work to help make Florida the best state to practice medicine.”

Among Bean’s priorities: telemedicine legislation. His bill passed the Senate without a “no” vote in 2018 but died without hearing in the House.

Bean is “honored to receive the endorsement from such a premier professional organization for physician leadership, patient care and education in Florida.”

“I look forward to the opportunity to work with the FMA members and leadership, to continue to serve my community and constituents, and know together we can play a vital role in shaping effective and innovative health policy in Florida,” Bean added.

The FMA imprimatur will boost Bean, an established incumbent, against a field full of less established challengers.

Scam something that lasts

Some bad news for Curry, via the Florida Times-Union, which reported that Curry’s “Build Something That Lasts” political committee was $120,000 poorer after its treasurer, Eric Robinson wired the money to four different addresses across the country at the behest of a political consultant, Kevin Hofmann.

Eric Robinson (Image via Sarasota Magazine/Salvatore Brancifort)

As it turned out, a “phone scammer duped Robinson,” who didn’t figure out the hustle until Hofmann called Robinson while Robinson was on the phone with a scammer.

Robinson, a Sarasota school board member who handles accounting for dozens of GOP candidates, apparently doesn’t have Caller ID.

Hofmann’s computer was hacked out of Nigeria and the phone hoaxer was in Luxembourg, adding to the mystery.

Robinson, the master of pass-through political committees, donated to another political committee (“Making a Better Tomorrow”), which then gave the money back to Curry’s committee, per the T-U report, making it whole.

Will donors care? Probably not. Curry brought in $244,000 in June, with four opponents raising just over $1,500 against him … combined.

Duly selected leaders

Gov. Rick Scott chose a Republican and a Democrat to replace indicted and suspended Jacksonville City Council members Katrina and Reggie Brown.

Lenny Curry gets two easy votes for the next year.

The news was first reported by the Jacksonville Daily Record,

The Republican: Terrance Freeman. He is connected, has deep Chamber ties and equally deep political ambition, reportedly replacing Reggie Brown in District 10.

One potential problem: he lived outside the district until this week, which could set the appointment up for a legal challenge. However, city officials are confident that he meets requirements.

The Democrat: Ju’Coby Pittman. Liked on both sides of the aisle, the Democrat will take over District 8.

What’s interesting: Scott’s office would not confirm the picks when we asked. Monday night saw the Governor’s office assert that they have “not made any announcements regarding these appointments.”

It is still a mystery where the story came from, if not the from the Scott administration. Also mysterious is the precise amount of collaboration between the Curry and Scott teams on the selections.

Curry told Florida Politics in June that, if needed, his team would provide “advice” on the picks. Asked weeks later, Scott said that while he didn’t talk to Curry’s team, someone in his office might have.

It’s hard to imagine picks more agreeable to the mayor’s office.

Freeman is a very careful politician, mindful of the need to preserve relationships with the donor class. Pittman, meanwhile, is not going to be inclined to rock the boat rhetorically. The periodic tempests caused by the Browns, in other words, will calm down just in time for election year.

Read more of our take here.

Monumental decision, redux

In the wake of violence in Charlottesville last year, former Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche compelled the city’s parks and recreation department to “inventory” Confederate monuments and markers on city property.

This monument has stood since 1898. Has its time passed?

The goal: “propose legislation to move Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers from public property to museums and educational institutions where they can be respectfully preserved and historically contextualized.”

That legislation never materialized in the 2017-18 Council term, and Brosche told us Monday that she wasn’t planning to file any.

However, 14 members of the Task Force on Civil Rights History Brosche convened during her presidency asserted last week in a memo that the process of discussion (one that smoldered in public comment despite a lack of legislation) should be resumed.

The Confederate monument discussion was not part of the task force charge; however, it was an issue that members such as Hope McMath, Rodney Hurst, and Richard Danforth believe merits discussion.

The memo notes that since 1898, Hemming Park has been home to a 62-foot monument to Confederate soldiers. The monument loomed over the carnage of the 1960s “Axe Handle Saturday,” where marauding whites assaulted African-American shop patrons.

“Many Jacksonville residents believe that the reason for the Confederate monument’s placement was to serve as a reminder to former slaves and descendants of their ‘place in society’,” the memo asserts.

Holland pads war chest

June extended a familiar narrative in Duval County property appraiser Jerry Holland‘s re-election bid, as the Republican incumbent again raised a five-figure sum against an undercapitalized Democratic challenger.

Jerry Holland is on track for re-election next year.

Holland raised $12,750 off 26 contributions, many of which are from politically connected Jacksonville residents with an interest in maintaining continuity in office.

Real estate investors and developers, including the Vestcor Company, ponied up, comprising half the contributor list. So too did Gate Petroleum, the family business of former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton.

Politicians also cut checks, including Jacksonville City Councilman-elect Randy White and state House candidate Wyman Duggan, a lobbyist by trade.

Holland has what appears to be an insurmountable cash advantage. In three months as an active candidate, he has raised over $123,000, and retains all of it on hand.

Holland’s Democratic opponent, Kurt Kraft, has yet to report June numbers. However, he finished May with under $300 on hand, with the bulk of that money self-financed.

Cameras on pause

Jacksonville’s body camera program, launched in the pilot phase, is now on pause.

The current issue: procurement.

The open question: how long the process takes.

An end … or a new beginning? JSO says the program is on track.

The Florida Times-Union reported Thursday that 200 officers will get cameras in 2019.

“Once the procurement process is complete, JSO will use the awarded funds to acquire and deploy the devices in a phased approach,” JSO told the FTU.

Sheriff Mike Williams confirmed Thursday to Florida Politics that the department is “still working through” procurement, and “we believe we have” a vendor selected.

“We’re still working in the contract pieces and all that to make sure we get procurement done the right way. The city’s working the procurement side for us,” Williams said.

Williams said that these cameras could be rolled out by the fall, “earlier than anticipated because we thought we would have to wait until the 18/19 budget to start that process, but with the [Department of Justice] grant … we’ll actually be online sooner than anticipated.”

“We received the grant July 1,” Williams added, “so it’s ready to spend, so we can start the procurement process. We were having to hold off until October before that.”

Money go round

News and notes from Jacksonville City Council races, with June fundraising in.

In Jacksonville City Council District 6, Rose Conry still holds the money lead over former WJCT CEO Michael Boylan, as the two Republicans competing to succeed termed-out Matt Schellenberg.

Rose Conry continues to stave off Michael Boylan in the CD 6 cash dash.

And cash on hand sees Conry with an almost 2-1 advantage. Conry has raised $86,585 and has over $77,000 on hand. Boylan has raised $61,150 and has just over $42,000. Boylan did raise more in June than Conry, however …

In District 14, Republican Randy DeFoor remains the cash leader, Democrat Sunny Gettinger gained ground again last month, setting the stage for what will be a costly race (at least by district Council standards), which likely won’t be decided until the May general election.

Despite nearly $80,000 on hand, Gettinger will have to continue outperforming DeFoor to attain parity. Even after a month where DeFoor, a senior vice president and National Agency Counsel for Fidelity National Financial, raised just $9,800 between her campaign account and that of her political committee, the Republican still has over $142,000 on hand ….

Incumbents Tommy Hazouri and Danny Becton got the party started, right and quickly. Each running unopposed, each brought in strong hauls. Hazouri: north of $55,000; Becton, upward of $62,000.

It’s easier here.

Also see: Is Shad Khan picking winners in Council races?

Harassment claim in Clay schools

Folio Weekly reported this week that “Three women have alleged that Michael Kerekes, coordinator of community and strategic partnerships at the Clay County School District, has ‘intimidated … cornered … harassed’ and ‘bullied’ them, also saying they feel the sheriff’s office under former Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler has covered it up.”

School’s out … but the drama continues in Clay.

The most lurid of the claims via one complainant: “She reportedly told police that Michael Kerekes confronted her late one night in 2014 when she was walking to her car after a school board meeting. She alleged Kerekes called her ‘one evil f***ing bitch’ because she was friends with Charlie Van Zant.”

Van Zant was a former candidate for superintendent.

Kerekes, who worked on the campaign of Superintendent Addison Davis, is now on leave.

JAA wins inclusion award

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is being honored with the 2018 Inclusion Champion Award presented by Airports Council International-North America. JAA is recognized as the 2018 Medium Hub Inclusion Champion for encouraging greater working relationships with disadvantaged businesses in the community while promoting workforce diversity, outreach and advocacy.

Zoo celebrates Friday 13th with ‘zooperstition’

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating Friday the 13th with “Night at the Zoo: Zooperstition,” a family-friendly event beginning 6:30 p.m. through 10 p.m.

Animals will be on exhibit until 8:30 p.m., as part of the event.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to celebrate Friday the 13th with nighttime ‘Zooperstition.’ (Image via News4Jax)

There will be live music, animal encounters and a chance for visitors to see the “Dinosauria” exhibit after dark.

For adults, cash bars will be available with beer and wine. Several food trucks will be on hand, such as Sonny’s BBQ, Pie Daddy and Mr. Potato Spread.

“Night at the Zoo” event tickets are limited and only available online at the zoo’s website. An adult ticket for $7 for members; $5 for children.

Standard zoo admission is $14 for adults, $12 for children. Children under age two are free and do not need a ticket.

Jags open 8 preseason practices to the public

NFL training camps are about to open. Some camps open as early as next week (Cleveland), but the Jaguars all report on July 25.

Fans wishing to sit in the heat, the Jaguars are allowing fans to watch practices on 8 occasions. The first comes on the second day of camp beginning at 10:30 a.m. while the July 27 practice will also be open to fans.

Are you ready for some football?

The first practice in full pads comes on July 28 at 6:30 p.m. This session will be open only to Jags365 season ticket members.

“We always appreciate the incredible support of our passionate fan base,” said Jags coach Doug Marrone. “We look forward to once again hosting fans at training camp, as they consistently add energy and competitiveness to our practices. We’re excited about the hard work that lies ahead in 2018, beginning in a few weeks with training camp, and are grateful for the fans that will be with us every step of the way.”

Practices on Monday, July 30, through Thursday, Aug. 2 all begin at 10:30 a.m. and are open to the public. The final open practice will be Friday, Aug. 3 beginning at 6 p.m.

The practices take place at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on the grounds of TIAA Bank Field. The Aug. 3 practice is Florida Blue Family Night and will take place at TIAA Bank Field.

Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and obtained in advance. Those wishing to attend any of the open practices must register online at jaguars.com/trainingcamp.

The first preseason game is Thursday, Aug. 9 against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field.

Terrance Freeman residency questions loom over Jacksonville City Council installation

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott chose a Democrat (Ju’Coby Pittman) and Republican (Terrance Freeman) to replace indicted and suspended Jacksonville City Council members, Katrina and Reggie Brown.

On Thursday afternoon, in the Jacksonville City Council Chamber, they were sworn in to fill the Browns’ terms, pending resolution of the fraud charges facing them.

Yet, more drama is likely to come regarding Freeman and the District 10 seat: While Freeman’s residency question is seemingly resolved to the satisfaction of city officials, others hold more doubt, including local attorney and Democratic activist Leslie Jean-Bart, who told Florida Politics that a legal challenge is pending.

Freeman’s residence, at 7101 Gunston Hall Court, consists of two rooms, per Jenna Bourne at Action News Jax. The owner of that house is Michael Graham.

The Athletic Director at Eagles View Academy, where Freeman used to coach baseball, is named Michael Graham also.

Freeman, at this writing, did not immediately confirm whether they were the same person.

Questions will be asked as to whether or not renting two rooms in a friend’s house equals residency, at least in the spirit of the law.

If two rooms constitute a residence, Freeman and his allies are good.

General Counsel Jason Gabriel noted earlier this week that the threshold for eligibility to serve is when Freeman is sworn in. The governor’s appointment on July 10 (leaked on July 9 to local media) is not the time marker, per Gabriel’s interpretation, a read which may confound some reading this.

Municipal code explains it as such, per Section 5.04: “Every member of the council shall be continuously throughout his or her term of office, a resident and qualified elector of Duval County, and of his or her district or residence area.”

In other words, Freeman was living at the residence when sworn in, conforming with the statute.

Thursday morning, Gabriel stood by his read of the law: “The Office of General Counsel has rendered its position on this matter based on a straightforward reading of the law, and I am confident in it.”

“If anyone seeks to properly challenge the position, we will review the matter at such time and respond accordingly.”

Council President Aaron Bowman was emphatic in his belief that the Freeman appointment was legit and that the pending lawsuit was “bothersome.”

“That district’s been without a council member for almost a month and a half. We’ve finally got somebody who is ready to work and excited about working, and they file a lawsuit to try to stop it,” Bowman said.

“I’m very disappointed that they did that. It’s unfounded. It’s not going to go anywhere. It’s a distraction. It’s a political game, and really a waste of everybody’s time,” Bowman added.

Regarding the contention that the appointee should have lived in the district before the appointment process began, Bowman said that “to me, the law is pretty clear. It’s been vetted [legally]. The governor knew exactly what he was doing. He chose the right person for both positions.”

“If they don’t like the governor’s position,” Bowman quipped, “maybe they should run for governor.”

Councilman Garrett Dennis, a Democrat who represents District 9, warned of potential complications ahead.

“After six-plus weeks of a process with NO transparency, the Governor has exercised his authority to appoint individuals to the City Council to represent parts of Jacksonville in the most dire need,” Dennis said.

“I am glad District 8 and District 10 now have dedicated representation, although I can’t help but question the logic of choosing an individual who did not live in the district, has never campaigned in the district, and will take all 10 months he sits in the seat to learn the people, learn the streets, learn the parks, and learn the needs of the area,” Dennis added.

“Such a move has Mayor [Lenny] Curry’s back-room-deal fingerprints all over it. A hand-picked individual from outside the district will come in to address some of the most challenging issues, issues that are difficult to find in Mandarin,” Dennis wrapped. “In the coming days and weeks, it will show why this appointment was problematic from the start of his application and will be problematic for the citizens of District 10. I welcome my new colleagues to City Council because we have a lot of work to do.”

Despite Dennis’ objections, many of his new colleagues were on hand, including representatives of Curry’s office, suggesting that his position was not universally shared.

Meanwhile, more intrigue: Freeman’s current residence is in At-Large District 1, currently held by Anna Brosche.

Brosche, a Republican, has clashed with current Council President Aaron Bowman and Mayor Lenny Curry.

Some say it is possible that Freeman could use his new home — all two rooms of it — as a launchpad to challenge Brosche, should she run for re-election rather than running against Curry in 2019.

Freeman would have a tough road to victory in a district that’s 19 percent Republican. But citywide? He’d fit in with the principles and program embodied by Curry and his allies. And he could be carried by a mayor who could win re-election by a landslide, in addition to allies throughout the business establishment, both in Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Body cameras to be back on Jacksonville police sooner than expected

Jacksonville’s body camera program, launched in pilot phase last summer, is now on pause.

The issue currently: procurement.

The open question: how long the process takes.

The Florida Times-Union reported Thursday that 200 officers will get cameras in 2019.

“Once the procurement process is complete, JSO will use the awarded funds to acquire and deploy the devices in a phased approach,” JSO told the FTU.

Sheriff Mike Williams confirmed Thursday to Florida Politics that the department is “still working through” procurement, and “we believe we have” a vendor selected.

“We’re still working in the contract pieces and all that to make sure we get procurement done the right way. The city’s working the procurement side for us,” Williams said.

Williams said that these cameras could be rolled out by the fall, “earlier than anticipated because we thought we would have to wait until the 18/19 budget to start that process, but with the [Department of Justice] grant … we’ll actually be online sooner than anticipated.”

“We received the grant July 1,” Williams added, “so it’s ready to spend, so we can start the procurement process. We were having to hold off until October prior to that.”

Action News Jax was first to report that body cameras aren’t being used by Jacksonville officers currently. Harold Kraai was shot by an officer responding to a call for help from a family member, and the narrative provided by officers and family members of Kraai had considerable divergence.

Body cameras, which may have clarified events, were not worn.

We asked Williams about concerns that some in the community may have about a lack of accountability for officers without cameras.

“Keep in mind there’s never been a camera on a policeman until we started it with this pilot, kicking off the camera program. Anything that happens before we roll the cameras out is the way it’s always been,” Williams said, adding that the program is “right on track.”

Though local activists are kvetching about the body camera program’s delays, it won’t matter. Republican Williams, next up for election in March, has nearly $450,000 cash on hand, against a Democrat who has just over $250.

Jake Godbold endorses Alvin Brown in CD 5

Ahead of a Friday visit from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to endorse Congressman Al Lawson in the Democratic Primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, former Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold endorsed another former mayor, Alvin Brown, for the seat.

Brown, mounting a challenge to Lawson, sees this as a key endorsement.

In a short video, Godbold said he’ll be a “big guy in Congress, and we need somebody from North Florida, somebody from Jacksonville, so we can call him and get in touch with him.”

“Alvin’s a good man,” Godbold added.

Godbold was Jacksonville Mayor from 1979 to 1987. Brown, from 2011 to 2015.

Will this make a dent in a news cycle? With Lawson bringing Pelosi to town Friday, and with Brown not exactly publicizing the media event, it could be argued Brown did not maximize the value of this endorsement.

The CD 5 primary is Aug. 28. The winner will face nominal Republican opposition in November.

Court challenge mounted to Jacksonville City Council special election

David Taylor, a former Jacksonville City Council Republican candidate who has not been immune to controversy over the years, is taking legal action against the Duval County Supervisor of Elections.

Taylor’s charge: The special election in District 12 was not publicly noticed in a publication of record, one that saw the only qualified candidate, Republican Randy White, win without opposition.

White had filed as the only candidate for the 2019 race before incumbent Doyle Carter filed a resignation letter and had a head start with $86,000 (and political consultant Tim Baker) on his side. Qualifying for the 2019 race is Jan. 7 through 11, and Taylor hasn’t opened a campaign account for it.

The Florida Constitution offers scant guidance in Section 100.501 regarding local special elections: “County commissioners or the governing authority of a municipality shall not call any special election until notice is given to the supervisor of elections and his or her consent obtained as to a date when the registration books can be available.”

That seems to have happened in this case, with the Jacksonville City Council approving legislation to authorize the special election on the 2019 ballot.

This was Election Supervisor Mike Hogan‘s take, emailed to us Thursday morning: “The City Charter controls Municipal Elections – no requirement for Public Notice in the Charter. Was noticed by City Council and on our website.”

Indeed, Charter does not require published notice, and SOE and the Council did notice the vacancy and the process.

Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel was likewise nonplussed: “We are confident that the City’s special election set in the upcoming election complies with all applicable laws. If or when the City is properly served with a complaint we will review and respond to any allegations that are raised.”

Taylor’s lawsuit asserts that state statute 100.141 prevails, however, requiring notice published twice within ten days in a paper of record at least ten days prior to qualifying. He contends that Hogan broke the law because no notice was published, and wants the election re-opened — and may want to run in it.

“No one that lived in District 12 knew there was going to be an election,” Taylor said, even as two candidates filed (though one, Sharol Noblejas, did not qualify). “If you’re in some inner circle … that’s great. But the law is the law, and it requires posting in a newspaper of general circulation.”

Taylor later added that those candidates had insider knowledge, and that when he called the SOE for guidance on qualifying, he was told to call back. (He did not memorialize those attempts in emails, he said).

Taylor noted that the legislation was on no Council agenda. Indeed, it was passed on a one-cycle emergency, but Taylor stopped short of advocating a remedy of ending emergency legislation altogether.

Taylor asserts that city ordinance on special elections requires that, if language is “void or vague,” then state statute that he cited shall prevail; his attorney, former Duval Democratic Party chair Neil Henrichsen, later told us the arguments were supported by Jacksonville Ordinance Code Sec. 350.103(b)(3) and Fla. Stat. Sec.100.3605

“It’s going to be a vicious circle for the Supervisor of Elections. They’re either bound by state election law, or bound by state code,” Taylor vowed.

Taylor did not indicate interest in the 2019 election, saying that the special election should have been “properly noticed” and that officials should “comply with the law.”

 

Is Shad Khan picking winners in Jacksonville City Council races?

A common thread in uncompetitive Jacksonville City Council races: June checks from the owner of a certain local NFL franchise.

In District 2, challenger Jack Daniels has $115 on hand. The perpetual challenger is not exactly keeping pace with incumbent Republican Al Ferraro.

Ferraro, a Mayor Lenny Curry ally, brought in $5,825 in June alone, with donations from Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars showing that no matter what Khan thought of Ferraro’s HRO opposition, he knows Ferraro will do business when it counts (such as whatever the city buy in will be for the next round of Sports Complex improvements).

District 5 is even more brutal.

Republican LeAnna Cumber, whose husband was the rare survivor of a JEA Board purge of Alvin Brown appointees, holds serve, with almost $186,000 raised and $178,000 of that on hand.

Running against a Democrat with less than $500 on hand, her fundraising has slowed ($5,100 in June). But she likewise got the attention of Shad Khan, the Jaguars, and the man some call “the 20th City Councilman,” the Jags’ (and everyone else’s) lobbyist Paul Harden.

In District 7, Democrat Reggie Gaffney has raised $51,600.

Gaffney, as much a Currycrat as a Democrat, only raised $3,000 in June, via three four-figure checks from the Khan/Jaguars/Harden triumverate.

However, how much more money does he need? He has six opponents, only two of whom have raised over $10,000.

Republican Rory Diamond, running without opposition in District 13, likewise got a Khan check in June. He has $113,000 or so on hand.

And Matt Carlucci, with over $263,000 raised and $240,000 on hand, got checks from Khan and the Jaguars in June. His two opponents, Harold McCart and Don Redman, have struggled to surpass $10,000 raised.

‘Let them fly’: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to display military flags at City Hall

Months back, a code enforcement issue became global news, when a city of Jacksonville employee cited a local business for flying military flags.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry overruled his employee.

“Let them fly,” he tweeted.

And now those flags will fly, permanently, at City Hall.

“A week ago, as I sat on the south bank of the St. Johns, my family and I enjoyed the fireworks and celebrations with our downtown as a backdrop. As the fun of the evening faded and we returned home, I spent some time reflecting about our city and our nation. My grandfathers and my father came to mind as I thought of the many men, women and families who have sacrificed by serving in our military to defend our way of life,” Curry asserted.

“With these reflections in mind,” the Mayor added, “I have decided that in addition to flying the United States flag, we should add the five military branch flags in an array around the National Colors in front of City Hall.”

Curry cited Jacksonville’s military bases and tradition of service as key to the decision: “Jacksonville is a town with a long and rich history of service. We are home to military bases with active and reserve units. Thousands upon thousands of our city’s citizens have for decades agreed to put their lives on the line for our country and our freedoms.”

“To honor that long tradition,” Curry added, “I want everyone who works in or visits City Hall to be reminded of the dedication of our Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Therefore, today I have asked my staff to install the necessary hardware next to the National Colors in Hemming Park to let our military flags fly.”

Worth noting: discussion of proper flag order was held before Independence Day, per an email from Chief of Staff Brian Hughes to Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa.

“There are five branches of the United States military; the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. While each branch of the military dedicates their time to certain aspects of protection and service, the five military branches work together to some extent in their role of security for the country. Each branch of the military has a separate flag, represented by emblems and insignia specific to the different branches. When displaying military branch flags together, the order of precedence should be the National Colors, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard,” Hughes wrote on July 3.

Throwing down the gauntlet: Alvin Brown wants debates with Al Lawson in every CD 5 county

The Democratic primary campaign in Florida’s 5th Congressional District has, up until now, been a battle of dueling press releases (except for when incumbent Congressman Al Lawson vowed to retire challenger Alvin Brown).

Business looks likely to pick up soon, however, if the former Jacksonville Mayor gets his wish, expressed on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

Lawson, to this point, has not responded to the challenge.

CD-5 is a sprawling east-west district, running from Jacksonville to Tallahassee along Interstate 10. It has, as one alert reader noted, eight counties.

Brown and Lawson, two historically conservative Democrats with a history of working across the aisle, have attempted to message to the left during this campaign, even as both men accused the other of being sellouts to the Republican machine.

Brown messaged heavily on a shot of Lawson applauding President Donald Trump at the State of the Union; Lawson, upon hearing of Republican Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan backing Brown, has accused Republicans of “trying to buy the seat.”

Interestingly, when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry challenged Brown in 2015, Curry wanted town hall forums in every Council district.

Brown, an incumbent who was up in polls almost to the end, didn’t take the bait.

Will Lawson?

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