Jax – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Sunny Gettinger makes up fundraising ground in Jacksonville City Council race

With each campaign finance report, the race to succeed termed-out Republican Jim Love in Jacksonville City Council District 14 gets more interesting.

Republican Randy DeFoor‘s fundraising started off strong but seems to have tapered off. And Democrat Sunny Gettinger continues to build momentum, chipping away month by month at DeFoor’s early advantage.

April was Gettinger’s third month in the race and the third month with over $10,000 raised.

Gettinger brought in $10,355 off 66 contributions, including two from Tracye Polson, a Democratic candidate to succeed Jay Fant in House District 15.

All told, the first-time candidate has nearly $55,000 on hand.

DeFoor still leads in cash on hand, despite another unexceptional fundraising month in April, in which she brought in just $5,200 (and $2,000 of that was a check she wrote her own campaign).

Despite the sluggish receipts in April and throughout 2018, she has $95,000 cash on hand, giving her a strong lead in the race.

Two other candidates, Democrat James Peluso (who just filed this month) and Republican Earl Testy, are farther back in the cash race.

Peluso won’t report until next month. Testy has not reported April numbers yet, and had $150 cash on hand as of the end of March, six months into the race.

‘JEA will look different,’ per Jacksonville Civic Council committee chair

Thursday saw Michael Ward of the Jacksonville Civic Council tell the Jacksonville City Council’s Special Committee on JEA how his group’s study should be received.

In March, the Civic Council former a committee to ‘assess’ a potential JEA sale. Ward, a co-chair of the Civic Council‘s committee, discussed the influential civic CEO group’s analytic model with the committee.

Ward noted that anyone with a potential conflict of interest was weeded out of the committee.

“We wanted to be as clean as we can, transparent as we can … and avoid potential conflicts out there,” Ward said.

That choice was a pragmatic one given the political climate not too long ago.

When the Civic Council began this inquiry, the conversation about the future of JEA was pitched on the City Council, with sharp allegations that the Mayor’s Office was pushing the sale.

Now, however, the heat has been dialed back on the burner, with Mayor Lenny Curry saying in April that he wouldn’t push for privatization, a seeming reversal of his lauding the initial pitch in November 2017 as an example of thinking big.

Ward noted that “to sell or to keep JEA” is “not the right question,” and that the Civic Council expected the process (“not an appraisal of JEA”) to go as long as another five to nine months.

One potential way forward: splitting up the water/sewer and electrical components down the road.

A report will be formulated down the road, assuming the subcommittee and executive committee greenlight it.

Ward offered critiques of the optimistic valuation of JEA commissioned by the utility months ago, saying that there were flaws, as it was done by a “bond rating group not an appraisal group … a little oversimplistic. A full appraisal,” said Ward, could cost up to a million dollars.

“My guess is that when this is all said and done, JEA will look different from today,” Ward said.

Any acrimony was muted, with politicians deferential to the political stroke of the group.

Council President Anna Brosche and Councilman Bill Gulliford, at loggerheads on a potential sale and everything else, both lauded the Civic Council for being able to provide objective analysis during their questions and remarks. As did Council VP Aaron Bowman.

Councilman Garrett Dennis keyed in on the assertion that “JEA will look different than it does today.”

“I did not intend to say they’d be totally different … but good ideas will come up to make them a smaller entity,” Ward said. “This whole dialogue … will come up with ideas to make them better.”

Dennis posited that one improvement might come in governance, with Council selecting board members in addition to the mayor’s picks.

Ward punted, wanting to avoid “controversial issues” as “down-the-middle fact finders.”

The era of good feeling in the committee may not last past this week, however, with Council President Brosche saying that she had sent questions to the head of the JEA Board regarding how interim CEO Aaron Zahn was selected.

Brosche wants Board Chair Alan Howard to answer questions in the committee, an outcome which is far from a certainty.

John Rutherford backs Michael Waltz in Florida’s 6th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, a former three-term Jacksonville Sheriff and current first-term Congressman, endorsed Lt. Col. Michael Waltz in the competitive Republican primary in Florida’s 6th Congressional District Thursday.

Rutherford and Waltz share some of the same political advisors; the endorsement makes clear that they share a kindred ideological vision as well.

“Michael Waltz is a conservative and a patriot. Having served multiple combat tours as a special forces commander, Michael knows what its like to defend the Constitution and keep our country and families safe. I’m proud to endorse his campaign for Congress and look forward to working together with him and President Trump to deliver for the People of Florida and America,” asserted Rutherford.

“Congressman Rutherford is a conservative leader who has worked every day to enact President Trump’s agenda for America. He is a champion of our Second Amendment rights, our law enforcement and veterans, and maintaining a strong national defense. I’m greatly honored to have his support and look forward to working alongside Congressman Rutherford as we fight for our nation’s future,” Waltz asserted.

Currently, there are three candidates on the Republican side of the race to replace Ron DeSantis.

Ward, a Ponte Vedra businessman, is the cash leader with $709,340 on hand compared to $653,354 on hand for Waltz. However, Waltz is amassing more high-profile endorsements, including that of Rutherford, St. Johns Sheriff David Shoar, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.

One big endorsement awaits: DeSantis has yet to go public with a chosen successor.

Ward and Waltz thus far have demonstrated the most fundraising ability on the Republican side. Former state Rep. Fred Costello has $15,720 on hand.

One Democrat, in terms of fundraising, is in the Ward/Waltz neighborhood.

Nancy Soderberg, a former Ambassador to the United Nations under Bill Clinton, has $595,000 on hand. She is keeping pace with the Republicans, without spending her own money on the campaign so far.

Another Democrat, Stephen Sevigny, has $227,000 on hand.

The 6th Congressional District runs from St. Johns to Volusia counties. It is expected to be a competitive general election this year.

Unopposed Aaron Bean nears $180K cash on hand for Senate run

While weeks remain before qualifying, all appearances are that State Sen. Aaron Bean will run for re-election without opposition.

Meanwhile, he continues slow and steady fundraising just in case. In April, Bean brought in $8,000 between campaign and committee accounts, pushing his total up to $180,000.

Bean brought in $6,000 in April off six checks to his campaign account, bringing him up to $180,300 raised and $84,315 on hand.

Disney money found Bean, as did contributions from Sen. Joe Negron‘s Treasure Coast Alliance, and the firefighters’ Florida FIRE PAC.

Bean’s committee brought in $2,000, but the $6,000 of expenditures are more interesting, especially the $2,500 distributed into local election accounts.

Nassau County School Board members Donna Martin and Jami Dionas got money, as did Nassau County Commissioner George Spicer, Jacksonville Beach City Council candidate Dan Janson, and St. Johns School Board member Beverly Slough.

Jim Overton, Lake Ray stake Duval Tax Collector campaigns with $50K each

With the impending exit of Duval County Tax Collector Michael Corrigan, a special election slated for August, and a field involving three veteran Republican politicians (and one seasoned Democrat), it stands to reason that candidates want to demonstrate seriousness.

The first candidate to file a campaign finance report, former Jacksonville City Councilman and Property Appraiser Jim Overton, showed a personal commitment to the race, staking his nascent bid with $51,000 in April.

Another former Councilman — former State Rep. Lake Ray — likewise staked his campaign with $50,000.

The two will face off with current Councilman Doyle Carter and former Democratic Councilwoman and State Rep. Mia Jones.

Upon his entry to the race, Overton told us that current tax collector Michael Corrigan, the next CEO of Visit Jacksonville, encouraged him to run.

Corrigan and Overton are friends outside of the political sphere, and Overton believes that Corrigan has done a “good job” in the role, and, if elected, he will keep the office on an “even keel” for the next couple of years.

Overton notes that the tax collector’s office is a “bigger shop” than the property appraiser office, but otherwise believes it’s an “easy fit.”

The race could get expensive before it’s all over.

For perspective, when Corrigan won this seat in 2011 (a different time for Duval County campaign finance in certain respects), he raised just over $157,000, and beat Dick Kravitz, who actually outraised him with just over $180,000.

In Overton’s last election for property appraiser, he beat a Democrat, yet raised less than $40,000.

What’s clear is that, especially given active primary elections in August, more money will be needed for messaging for this election than for a typical Jacksonville municipal election, held in an off year.

Jacksonville House hopeful Tracye Polson clears $210K raised

In Jacksonville’s House District 15, Democrat Tracye Polson continues to stack chips in her campaign account, with the hope of flipping the seat from red to blue.

Between her campaign account and that of her “Better Jacksonville” political committee, she raised $36,983.03 in April. The total raised is over $211,000 now, which is far and away the biggest nestegg for any Jacksonville State House candidate, Republican or Democrat.

Given that the seat was uncontested by a Democrat in recent campaign cycles, and given that in most other local Republican-held seats Democrats are not well-funded, Polson’s campaign stands out as one with sufficient resources to make the race competitive.

“When I got into this race, we knew people wanted change, improvement over the same politicians and lobbyists who fail to provide results that improve the lives of working families in Jacksonville. We’ve heard from voters as we’ve walked the district, they are looking for fresh leadership, real change on vital issues like schools, health care, crime, and better paying jobs,” Polson said in a media release.

Republicans languish behind Polson in terms of resources ahead of what right now is a three-way primary, one in which a poll released last month by the Polson campaign shows her ahead of her best financed Republican opponent in a general election clash.

Wyman Duggan, a lawyer for Rogers Towers with City Hall connections, raised $7,010 in April (a month that saw him endorsed by the political committee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce), pushing him over $120,000 raised and $99,000 cash on hand.

Joseph Hogan, who reported no fundraising for March, reported just $3,000 fundraising for April, which leaves him poorly positioned in the primary battle ahead.

Likewise, yacht broker Mark Zeigler raised $9,150 in April, and he has roughly $20,000 on hand.

Cord Byrd, Clay Yarborough extend fundraising leads over Democratic challengers

April told a familiar story in House Districts 11 and 12, where Republican incumbents Cord Byrd and Clay Yarborough expanded leads over Democratic challengers.

In HD 11, Byrd raised $3,470 in April, bringing his cash on hand to $38,500. Among his donors: the Fiorentino Group.

While less than $40,000 cash on hand doesn’t sound like much, thus far his Democratic opponent (Nathcelly Rohrbaugh) has yet to show real fundraising prowess.

Rohrbaugh raised $560 in April, and has $1,010 on hand.

HD 11 is solidly Republican, with 66,830 of them compared to 30,574 Democrats as of 2016.

Though there are rumors that Byrd may face a primary challenger, thus far they have been all sizzle and no steak.

HD 12 saw a similar scenario: an entrenched incumbent continuing to plug away against a Democratic opponent in a deep-red district.

Though Yarborough brought in just $1,000 (and spent more than that on consulting), he nonetheless has over $103,000 on hand.

Yarborough, who was a two-term Jacksonville City Councilman representing a big swath of his current House district, is also one of the better grassroots candidates in the area.

Even with just $1,000 coming in, Yarborough outraised Democrat Tim Yost, who brought in just $745 off eight contributions.

Yost has nearly $4,000 cash on hand.

Travis Hutson’s political committee brings in $155K in April

Sen. Travis Hutson is pursuing the 2022 Senate presidency and recent activity for his primary political committee (Sunshine State Conservatives) reflects that long-range goal.

The committee brought in $155,000 in April, wit much of that money coming from other committees.

The “Free Speech PAC” and “Citizens First,” both of “5730 Corporate Way Suite 214” in West Palm Beach ponied up $40,000 each.

“Florida Jobs Alliance” and “Conservative Choice,” each of which share an address with Sunshine State Conservatives, were in for another $25,000.

These committees all appear to be passthrough committees, with money coming from other committees, and so on.

Also interesting: the contributions, dated Apr. 27, represent a break from previous contribution trends for the committee, which predominately (though not exclusively) has been from corporate and industry PACs.

The committee doled out $10,050 in April, including contributions to campaigns of Sen. Kelli Stargel, Rep. Joe Gruters, and a secondary Hutson committee, “First Coast Business Foundation.”

Bigger spending could be found in March for the committee, which gave $50,000 to the FRSCC, to help with fundraising efforts. Donations were also made to the campaigns of Sens. Dana YoungDennis BaxleyKathleen PassidomoGeorge Gainer, and Doug Broxson.

As the race for eventual Senate leadership continues to unfold, expect more interesting committee transfers … and, if April receipts for this committee are an indication, they will at least sometimes be hard to track.

Rose Conry doubles Michael Boylan’s money in Jacksonville City Council race

April continued what is becoming a familiar narrative in the two-person race in Jacksonville City Council’s District 6.

Rose Conry still holds the money lead over former WJCT CEO Michael Boylan, as the two Republicans vie to succeed termed-out Matt Schellenberg.

And cash on hand sees Conry with an almost 2-1 advantage.

Conry brought in $8,050 in April, which pushed her over $77,000 raised and $70,000 on hand.

Among notable donors for the first time candidate: Michael Munz and a political committee associated with State Rep. Jason Fischer.

Worth noting: Fischer and Conry share a common political consultant, Tim Baker.

Boylan lost ground during the month in the money race, bringing in $6,250, pushing him over $48,000 raised and $36,000 on hand. Not only is Boylan raising less money than Conry, he’s spending more of it.

Boylan is in a more precarious position than he might expect. Conry’s political operation is situated to make attacks down the stretch count. He will want to step up his fundraising, lest he be unable to counter them.

Jacksonville to consider ‘bill of rights’ for homeless population

In the coming weeks, the Jacksonville City Council will consider a “Homeless Bill of Rights,” legislation that will codify civil rights for the city’s dispossessed populations.

Ordinance 2018-308, filed by Councilwoman Katrina Brown, contends that “the basic rights all people should enjoy must be guaranteed for homeless individuals and families,” and attempts to “assure that basic human rights are not being trampled simply because someone happens to be homeless.”

The bill would guarantee the right to move freely for homeless people, as well as rights to be “protected by law enforcement,” to prayer, to voting, to quality emergency health services, to “occupy” legally parked cars, and to have a “reasonable expectation of privacy over personal property.”

Undoubtedly, at least some of the enumerated prerogatives will be major talkers in City Council committees.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has pushed for this legislation, and Councilwoman Brown’s bill aligns with the goals of that organization.

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