Alvin Brown Archives - Page 2 of 52 - Florida Politics

Al Lawson takes cash lead, momentum into CD 5 Dem primary home stretch

Conditions are looking favorable for U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to win his primary battle over former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown in Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Lawson, ahead by more than 20 points in the only public poll of the race, endorsed by Brown’s local Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville state Rep. Tracie Davis in recent days, is also ahead in cash on hand as of Aug. 8 — the last date for which candidates have filed financial reports.

Lawson, who has raised just over $503,823, had $131,143 on hand. Brown, who has raised $388,649, had $84,361.

Lawson seems confident in his chances, posting to Facebook that “FiveThirtyEight’s ongoing forecast of 2018 House elections currently places me at a 99.9% chance of winning back the 5th District seat.”

Brown’s touting some backing that he hopes will flip that script, however, including from one progressive group that will text people in the district in the next week.

“In the current political climate, it is unacceptable to have a conservative-Democrat representing a safely blue district. That’s why Build the Wave is proud to endorse Alvin Brown, a true progressive leader, for Congress in Florida’s 5th Congressional district,” said Nate Lerner, Grassroots Director for Build the Wave. “We’re confident Alvin will be a strong progressive voice in Congress who holds Trump and his allies accountable.”

As well, he’s touting endorsements from Jacksonville preachers, which coincide with Souls to the Polls during early voting weekends: “more than 30 faith leaders representing a large swath of the local faith community.”

Preachers had been part of Brown’s base during his term as a “conservative Democrat” Mayor of Jacksonville, and the big names backing him include Pastor John Guns, Bishop Rudolph McKissick, and Pastor Reginald Gundy.

Can these moves turn around a 22 point poll deficit?

Brown, who had a segment Monday on Jacksonville radio station WJCT (Lawson canceled the day before), expressed confidence despite what host Melissa Ross called a “David and Goliath battle,” citing a “strong outpouring of support” from local grassroots, teachers’ groups, and the AFL-CIO.

Brown also noted that his team has been campaigning aggressively, with a “good ground game” and support from the Democratic Party.

“Just yesterday, I spoke at seven houses of worship,” Brown said.

Duval County has 141,305 of District 5’s 255,673 Democrats, so this could help.

In the last two weeks, the Brown campaign has knocked on more than 5,000 doors and made nearly 2,000 phone calls, according to a Friday media release.

If Brown is able to overcome a 22 point deficit in the polls through grassroots and text messages, it would be a comeback for the ages.

Tracie Davis says Al Lawson is ‘the right man’ in CD5

State Rep. Tracie Davis and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown both ran, and lost, as Democrats on the Duval ballot in 2015.

Davis lost her elections supervisor race in March; Brown lost the mayorship in May.

That link, however, was not enough for Davis to endorse Brown for Congress. On Friday, she broke with her fellow Duval Democrat and backed incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson for re-election to Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Quotes were provided by the Lawson campaign.

“I’ve seen the work that Congressman Lawson has done for the district and, specifically, for my hometown of Jacksonville,” Davis said. “He has done so much to support our veterans, defend affordable healthcare, and to secure funding to improve our infrastructure and the quality of life for our community.”

“His record shows that Congressman Lawson is the right man for Jacksonville and Florida’s 5th District. I’m honored to endorse him and I am throwing my full support behind him,” Davis added.

Lawson said, “As one of my peers in government, Rep. Davis understands exactly what we’re up against when it comes to creating meaningful change for the people we represent.  This is why it means so much to receive such support from her.  I look forward to continuing to work with her to improve the quality of life for all of those who call Jacksonville home.”

Davis’ endorsement may be a bellwether for other Jacksonville endorsements. Typically, she moves in lockstep with Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis and state Sen. Audrey Gibson.

It will be worth watching, meanwhile, to see if Alvin Brown can score any endorsements to counteract this message.

The Brown campaign is stumbling toward the finish line. He was down by more than 20 points in the only public poll of the race, and the local Florida Times-Union endorsed Lawson over him.

Jacksonville Bold for 8.17.18 — Sizzle, and steak

Wishful thinking predicates much of election season. Aspirational ads for Democrats; appeals targeting nonexistent issues (hello, “sanctuary cities”) for Republicans.

Ultimately, these moves — whether pulled by a winning or losing campaign — are strategic. How a Republican is to eliminate sanctuary cities or how a Democrat is by force of will to create Medicare for All or legalize cannabis is left to the voters’ imaginations.

From the embryonic, conceptual phases of campaigns, where voters can convince themselves that radical shifts can happen, thinking evolves eventually. Pretenders fall off. People start thinking strategically about their vote. And, in the cases of early front-runners, we often see how shallow that support is once the game changes.

As you will see below, there’s not a lot of drama in certain races. We have a good sense of who will win area Congressional primaries. Less of a good sense as to who will win a couple of state House races.

As is the case every year, none of this is too surprising. Polls are transparent. Campaign finance is easy enough to figure out. And most reading this can read candidates and their chances pretty well also.

Levine in Jax

Jacksonville was the fourth and final stop on Philip Levine‘s barnstorming tour of local early voting locations Monday.

Philip Levine says he’s “everywhere” right now, and will be back before the primary vote.

This tour happens as tensions have boiled over between Levine and another Democratic contender, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

As the two work to drive up each other’s negatives, polls show that U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham holds an advantage.

An internal poll released last week by Levine has him behind by four points. A Graham poll shows her up on Levine by 16 points. Greene was behind the top two in both cases.

Levine was not especially dismayed by the turn the campaign has taken.

“The bottom line is this,” Levine said. “I think the people deserve to know what someone’s track record is” vis a vis Trump.

Levine estimated having been “on television … a hundred, two hundred times … during the 2016 election, warning America that this guy would be a terrible president.”

“I think that when someone pretends [he’s] fighting them while being at his country club by the ocean — we call it Kremlin-by-the-Sea — and passing the Grey Poupon across the table and thinks that’s fighting Donald Trump,” Levine added, “the people have a right to know.”

“You don’t want Donald Trump’s friend — you want who Donald Trump fears,” Levine said. “The people of Florida should understand who is who, and that’s why we’re doing it.”

Curry endorses DeSantis

According to WJCT, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis align on prominent issues — being tough on crime and investing in youth — and they both come from similar working-class backgrounds and want others to have the same opportunities.

‘Brothers of a different mother’: Lenny Curry calls Ron DeSantis ‘ the right guy right now.’

“Ron’s a good conservative,” Curry told reporters. “I’ve been about disrupting the status quo locally, and I think that that’s what’s got to happen everywhere, and Ron’s going to disrupt the status quo as the governor of the state of Florida and I’m supporting him, voting for him and encouraging folks to get out and vote in the primary.”

DeSantis called Curry “innovative.”

“What he’s done here is showing that you got to be bold, you just got to keep pushing,” he said. “And that’s obviously what I would want to do as governor.”

Tale of two districts

For nearly three decades, two congressional districts split the city of Jacksonville.

One of them, what is now Florida’s 4th Congressional District, was represented for years by reliable — and by today’s standard, moderate — Republicans Tillie Fowler and Ander Crenshaw.

Ander Crenshaw and Corrine Brown represented Jacksonville together for 16 years.

The other district, currently the 5th Congressional District, was Democrat Corrine Brown‘s sinecure. The maps on that district changed periodically, seemingly always under legal challenge, a process that ended in 2016 with Brown’s district being moved from its south/southwest jog toward the Orlando area to a straight east-west configuration.

Jacksonville, as of yet, doesn’t have the population to house two districts within Duval County — and given the cartographical challenges of minority access districts, that may not be the case after the next apportionment either.

However, a look at book closing data for CD 4 and CD 5 reveals two districts that ultimately will be decided in primary elections, proving that some things really don’t change in the 904.

Read more here.

Brown going down

If the election in Florida’s 5th Congressional District were today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson would cruise to victory, according to a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday.

Nancy Pelosi was one of just many big-name endorsers for Al Lawson this cycle.

A survey of 445 likely Democratic primary voters shows Lawson with 50 percent of the vote, with opponent Alvin Brown at 28 percent. The balance of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4.6 percent.

Lawson has strong leads of 15 percent and up among all surveyed demographics with appreciable data: whites and blacks, men and women, and every age cohort.

Among those who already voted, Lawson is up 52-42; among those yet to vote, Lawson’s lead balloons to 49-26.

Despite the negative messaging in this race in recent weeks against Lawson, the incumbent has not seen his favorable ratings damaged. Fifty-four percent of Democrats in the district regard him favorably, giving him a +36 rating (Brown, with 36 percent of Democrats regarding him favorably, is at +16).

The winner of this race will face Republican Virginia Fuller, a first-time candidate without an appreciable campaign infrastructure.

Notable: the Florida Times-Union also endorsed Lawson this week, another sign this is over.

Last dance for Waltz foes

A new survey conducted by St. Pete Polls shows Republican Michael Waltz pulling ahead of primary opponents John Ward and Fred Costello in the race to succeed DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Mike Waltz is seen here on Fox News demonstrating a ‘go bag,’ suitable for escaping terrorist attacks.

The new poll commissioned for Florida Politics asked likely primary voters who they would support if the election were today. Waltz, a St. Augustine Army veteran, would take 40 percent of the vote, results show. Ward, a Palm Coast Navy veteran, would win 21 percent, while former Ormond Beach state Rep. Costello would get 16 percent. Another 23 percent of those polled remain undecided.

The poll, taken Aug. 10, shows an even more pronounced lead for Waltz among voters who already cast their ballot in the race. Waltz won support from 41 percent of those polled. Interestingly, Costello outperformed Ward among those eager voters, winning 22 percent to Ward’s 21 percent.

More than 23 percent of those surveyed already voted in the Republican primary.

The poll shows significant movement from a survey by St. Pete Polls conducted July 18. Then, the three Republicans appeared to be in a dead heat, with Costello just over 21 percent, Ward just under 21 percent and Waltz at 20.

HD 14, 15 still in doubt

Both the Democratic primary in House District 14 and the Republican race in HD 15 offer a soupçon of drama as early voting continues.

In HD 14’s Democratic two-way, challenger Paula Wright finally has cash on hand lead over incumbent Kim Daniels.

Paula Wright’s game-ready, but her opponent specializes in brushback pitches.

Wright has continued to raise money. Between July 28 and Aug. 3, the last dates for which campaign finance numbers are available, Wright raised $7,675, with cash from Realtors, AFSCME, and a sheet metal local union contributing.

Wright has just over $14,000 on hand (more than Daniels), and according to her campaign finance report, will spend a lot of that money on canvassers (the majority of the nearly $2,800 spent between July 27 and Aug. 3 went for such purposes).

Wright has some advantages. A current chair of the Duval County School Board, she is no political neophyte. And she’s backed by Democratic elected officials, including Sen. Audrey Gibson, state Rep. Tracie Davis, and Councilman Garrett Dennis.

Daniels, who has had her share of scandals and apostasies from Democratic orthodoxy, is seen as beatable by those close to Wright.

In HD 15, meanwhile, the Republican side of the ledger is where the action is, with lobbyist Wyman Duggan trying to close the deal against primary opponents Joseph Hogan and Mark Zeigler.

Duggan has spent more than $85,000 on television in July. He continues to raise money ($10,000 between July 27 and Aug. 3, including donations from pharmaceutical and Realtor trade group political committees) and has roughly $75,000 between hard money and committee money as he heads into the stretch run.

It gives him more cash on hand than Zeigler (~$28K) and Hogan (~$28K) combined.

Public polling of this race has yet to surface. However, a recent mailer from Duggan’s political committee slammed Hogan for his support for former Jacksonville Mayor Brown in the 2015 race against current Republican incumbent Curry.

Hogan “stands with anti-Trump progressives,” the mailer charges, as Hogan said Jacksonville was “better off” with Brown.

The Duggan bet seems to be that district voters need reminding of that particular deviation from doctrine.

October surprise

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up a dispute about whether Gov. Rick Scott has the authority to appoint a Northeast Florida circuit judge.

David Trotti’s position is that he should ‘win’ the seat unopposed.

Justices issued an order Thursday accepting the case and scheduled arguments Oct. 2. But the order showed a divided court, with Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and Jorge Labarga backing the decision to take up the case and Chief Justice Charles Canady and justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson opposed.

The case stems from the upcoming retirement of Judge Robert Foster in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties. Foster was expected to leave office Jan. 7, 2019, which would be the end of his term, because of mandatory retirement age.

But on April 2, Foster sent a letter to Scott making the retirement effective Dec. 31, four business days ahead of schedule.

The Scott administration argues — and the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed — that the governor’s acceptance of a judicial resignation before the start of an election-qualifying period creates a vacancy that should be filled by appointment, rather than election.

If Foster retired Jan. 7, the post would be filled by election. Jacksonville lawyer David Trotti filed the legal challenge arguing that the opening should be filled in this year’s elections. Trotti tried this spring to qualify to run for the judicial spot but was denied. The Supreme Court arguments will come about a month before the Nov. 6 general election but after ballots are printed.

Hogan on blast

Early voting is allowed on college campuses — but Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan isn’t having it at the University of North Florida.

(Image via Jax Daily Record)

Via Folio Weekly, Megan Newsome — a UNF student who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit intended to secure that access for college students — is not happy.

“Students have been fighting for this change for years, and now that the option is finally on the table, officials in Alachua and Hillsborough counties have already taken steps to make early voting on UF and USF campuses a reality. Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections has remained open to the possibility, too. But Hogan will not even “entertain the option” because it would be “just too darn difficult,” Newsome writes.

“The closest early voting location to UNF’s campus is over 3 miles away,” Newsome notes.

No, thank you

DeSantis may want Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams to be his Lieutenant Governor.

But it’s not happening, Williams told WJXT this week.

Mike Williams slams the door on Lieutenant Governor talk.

Williams will not accept the offer, “slamming the door” on the bid.

“As long as the people of Jacksonville want me to serve them, I will honor that trust,” Williams said.

Williams, a candidate for re-election in 2019, faces nominal competition.

Between his campaign and committee accounts, Williams raised just $1,450 in July. He is left with roughly $440,000 on hand.

Williams is not in any appreciable danger at the ballot box. His sole opponent, Democrat Tony Cummings, has $700 on hand.

Mayfield seeks audit of JEA nuclear costs

State Sen. Debbie Mayfield is calling the Florida Legislature’s auditing and accountability office to look into JEA involvement an expensive nuclear power project — blasting it as an “alarming example” of “potential mismanagement” at the city-owned utility.

Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union reports that JEA’s involvement in the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project served as a backdrop for a contentious debate at City Hall over the privatization of JEA.

Debbie Mayfield is taking a hard look at JEA nuclear costs.

JEA’s share of Vogtle — as much as $4 billion over 20 years — is raising alarm bells with both city officials and credit-rating analysts.

While JEA is telling Plant Vogtle co-owners to cancel the project, Monroe noted that utility officials are “actively searching for ways to get out of the contract it has with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, one of the co-owners.”

Mayfield represents Senate District 17, which covers Brevard and Indian River counties — about 150 miles south of Jacksonville. The Mayfield Republican is requesting the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability Office to complete a full examination of JEA’s contract with MEAG. She also wants a report submitted to the House and Senate leadership by Feb. 1.

“Citizens from the community have expressed concern over recent events and published reports that suggest serious issues surrounding the spending and operation decisions of the JEA,” Mayfield wrote to auditors this week.

JEA interim CEO Aaron Zahn told reporters he welcomed the review but disagreed that the decision to invest in Vogtle was evidence of mismanagement.

“JEA has just been taken for a ride,” Zahn said.

Khan ready to build

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record, is prepared to get moving on big projects.

The paper writes: “The plan is to commence construction on a parking structure, entertainment complex, hotel, office tower and residential building at the same time so that most of the construction occurs during the NFL offseason.”

“Based on what we talked about today, I’d say any deal would need to be in place by the end of the year to hit that mark,” said Jags President Mark Lamping.

Ready to build: Shad Khan’s vision includes a hotel on the former Shipyards property.

“Shad is anxious to get moving on these projects because he’s a big believer in momentum,” Lamping said. “It’s one of the hardest things to get, it’s one of the easiest things to lose.”

Lamping added that movement on development at the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park wouldn’t happen until the Hart Bridge offramps go down.

Should any city incentives be required, Khan is well-positioned as both Curry’s most prominent supporter and a donor in most Council races already.

Social Grounds gets props

At this week’s Cabinet meeting, Gov. Rick Scott recognized Jacksonville’s veteran-owned Social Grounds Coffee Company with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award.

Scott said, “I’m proud to recognize Social Grounds Coffee Company with the Business Ambassador Award today. Florida is the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, and it’s great to see veteran-owned companies succeed in Florida.”

Gov. Rick Scott recognizes Jacksonville’s veteran-owned Social Grounds Coffee Company with Business Ambassador Award.

Social Grounds Owner and Marine Corps veteran Jason Kelloway said, “I am truly honored to receive the Business Ambassador Award from Governor Scott on behalf of the entire team at Social Grounds. We love our city and will continue to use our coffee to help change lives and make a difference in our community.”

In July, the release from Scott’s office notes, the Governor visited Kuwait and took coffee from Social Grounds to serve to the troops.

Ramsey, Fowler stay home as Jags visit Minnesota

The Jaguars are in Minnesota practicing with the Vikings before getting together in the second preseason game on Saturday. They are there minus two players.

Both cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. are back in Jacksonville serving a one-week suspension. Fowler’s banishment came after two altercations with teammates, the most heated between the former Florida Gator and fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

Ramsey, the All-Pro from Florida State, stuck up for his one-time rival by going after a reporter who was recording Fowler’s altercation with Ngakoue. After Philip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union reported on the incident, Ramsey tweeted, among other things “if y’all want war, we got sum for y’all.”

Jalen Ramsey staying home as Jaguars visit Minnesota.

With team management, let alone the media relations department, working to generate positive coverage of a young, up-and-coming team, good relations with the local media is a priority. Ramsey’s actions, as well as Fowler’s, were determined to be “a violation of team rules,” prompting the suspensions.

Ramsey said his coaches had urged him to speak his mind. He recalled a recent meeting where coaches said “Yo, Jalen, we need you to say this,” and “come Thursday, we need you to say this on the media.”

This is probably true, but it is also likely the coaches never urged him to attack the media on Twitter. On the other hand, coaches can smile broadly when Ramsey’s incessant trash talking on the field leads opponents to take silly penalties.

The altercation last year with Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green, which led to Green body slamming Ramsey on the field, is a prime example.

When Ramsey and Fowler return to practice Monday, hopefully, the messages will have been delivered.

Debate on: Al Lawson and Alvin Brown agree to ‘electronic town hall’ on Jacksonville radio

The Democratic primary campaign in Florida’s 5th Congressional District continues between incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and challenger Alvin Brown.

With a recent poll showing Brown 22 points down, and endorsements from everyone from over three dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the Florida Times-Union going Lawson’s way, Brown opted on Wednesday to re-up a debate challenge made over a month ago.

“The contrast could not be starker between myself and my opponent, and the voters in Florida’s 5th Congressional District deserve to hear directly from both of us about our very different visions for the future,” Brown asserted in a statement.

And apparently, there will be a debate of sorts. Monday’s episode of First Coast Connect on WJCT-FM will see the two Democrats square off in what will be an “electronic town hall.”

This is remarkable, given that earlier Wednesday, Lawson’s campaign manager Philip Singleton shot down discussion of a debate.

“Over the last eight months, we could have organized a debate but people in this district and throughout Florida have already started voting. Early voting started this week in Duval, Gadsden, and Jefferson [counties]. With well over 6,000 ballots already cast, we feel it would be unfair to those voters to have a debate less than 14 days before an election,” Singleton concluded.

We have yet to hear back from Singleton or Lawson regarding the change in plans; however, this appears to be Brown’s chance to make up some ground in polls.

New endorsements signal Al Lawson momentum in re-election bid

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson continues to demonstrate momentum as early voting continues in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 5th Congressional District, with two key endorsements conferred upon him Tuesday.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed Lawson, calling him a “strong supporter of women’s health and … a dedicated advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers and the people they serve.”

“This endorsement means so much to me,” Lawson said. “I pride myself in standing tall for the rights of women. Sometimes, that means facing backlash from people with opposing viewpoints, but this endorsement means that my efforts are being appreciated where it counts.”

Another endorsement that signals appreciation: backing from the Florida Times-Union, the hometown paper of Lawson’s primary opponent, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

The paper lauded Lawson’s “no-drama approach,” saying there’s “no compelling reason” for Jacksonville voters to “abandon the incumbent.”

Mayor Brown’s candidacy was intended to bring the seat back to Jacksonville; however, that’s not a priority of the local paper’s editorial page.

The endorsement of the Times-Union may not have done much to change the race, which increasingly looks like a comfortable win for Lawson, per a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday that shows him with a 22-point lead.

Lawson has strong leads of 15 percent and up among all surveyed demographics with appreciable data: whites and blacks, men and women, and every age cohort.

Lawson vowed to “retire” Brown, a “failed Mayor,” early in the campaign. The rhetoric has been less combative in recent days, and perhaps that’s another sign the race is closing.

The Democratic primary is Aug. 28. The winner of it will face Republican Virginia Fuller, a first-time candidate without an appreciable campaign infrastructure.

Voter registrations numbers show that it’s still a tale of two congressional districts in NE Fla.

For nearly three decades, the city of Jacksonville has been split between two congressional districts.

One of them, what is now the 4th Congressional District, was represented for years by reliable and, by today’s standard, moderate Republicans: Tillie Fowler and Ander Crenshaw.

The other district, currently the 5th Congressional District, was Democrat Corrine Brown‘s sinecure. The maps on that district changed periodically, seemingly always under legal challenge, a process that ended in 2016 with Brown’s district being moved from its south/southwest jog toward the Orlando area to a straight east-west configuration.

Brown’s political career, wrecked by indictment and conviction for rainmaking and profiteering for and off a fake charity, ended soon after the ink on the new map dried.

Jacksonville, as of yet, doesn’t have the population to house two districts within Duval County — and given the cartographical challenges of minority access districts, that may not be the case after the next apportionment either.

However, a look at book closing data for CD 4 and CD 5 reveals two districts that ultimately will be decided in primary elections, proving that some things really don’t change in the 904.

CD 4 is still heavily Republican, though the trend in the last two years has been an uptick in NPA voters.

In 2016, there were 547,011 voters; that number is up to 564,794 in 2018.

Republicans are up 6,000 votes, just over 281,000, or 49.8 percent of the district’s voters. There are now 150,237 Democratic voters, an uptick of 4,500, or 26.6 percent of district voters. NPAs, however, moved from 107,797 in 2016 to 128,057 this year.

That gain of more than 20,000 voters represents 3.6 percent of the electorate, and it’s telling that NPA growth is outpacing even the growth of the voter rolls in the district.

Much of the change came from a decrease in registrants to the “Independent Party” and the Independence Party. In 2016, those two parties accounted for nearly 14,500 votes; in 2018, the Independence Party was gone, and the Independent Party had just 2,260 registrants.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats had a competitive primary this year. Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Rutherford is the prohibitive favorite against electoral politics newcomer Ges Selmont, the Democratic nominee.

CD 5, meanwhile, is a different story. The district winds through eight counties along Interstate 10, and was designed to be won by a Democrat. The last two years, meanwhile, have made it marginally less friendly for a Dem.

The district now has 442,303 voters, up nearly 2,000 from 2016. Republican registrations have stayed mostly flat in the district: 103,170, just 47 more than in 2016, making up 23.3 percent of voters.

The real changes have been a decrease in Democrats over the last two years, and an expansion of NPA voters.

In 2016, 259,116 Democrats called CD 5 home; that number is down to 255,673 in 2018, but is still a strong 58 percent majority. Conversely, 69,208 was the total number of NPA voters in 2016. In 2018, that number is 80,885.

Likewise, in CD 5 it was a bad cycle for the Independence and Independent parties, which lost all but 1,052 of their more 6,600 registrants in two years, speaking to a lack of intentionality in those registrations.

The ongoing drama since Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson took the seat from Corrine Brown has been whether or not Duval Democrats could take back the seat in the primary.

With 141,305 of the district’s 255,673 Democrats, that could have been the case if voters moved in geographic lockstep. However, despite a well-known Jacksonville challenger in former Mayor Alvin Brown, polling suggests that won’t happen, with Lawson leading Alvin Brown 50 percent to 28 percent.

The winner of Brown/Lawson gets Republican Virginia Fuller in the general election.

Fuller, an idiosyncratic candidate who has yet to report any campaign finance activity, memorably attacked the two Democrats at a recent Jacksonville forum.

Fuller noted that both Democrats are getting Republican money. To reassure attendees of her independence, Fuller said she wasn’t getting any money at all.

Al Lawson leads Alvin Brown by 22 points, according to new poll

If the election in Florida’s 5th Congressional District were held today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson would cruise to victory, according to a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday.

A survey of 445 likely Democratic primary voters shows Lawson with 50 percent of the vote, with opponent Alvin Brown at 28 percent. The balance of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4.6 percent.

Lawson has strong leads of 15 percent and up among all surveyed demographics with appreciable data: whites and blacks, men and women, and every age cohort.

Among those who already voted, Lawson is up 52-42; among those yet to vote, Lawson’s lead balloons to 49-26.

Despite the negative messaging in this race in recent weeks against Lawson, the incumbent has not seen his favorable ratings damaged. Fifty-four percent of Democrats in the district regard him favorably, giving him a +36 rating (Brown, with 36 percent of Democrats regarding him favorably, is at +16).

The winner of this race will face Republican Virginia Fuller, a first-time candidate without an appreciable campaign infrastructure.

Lawson won the 2016 race against Republican Glo Smith by 26 points, winning six of the eight counties in the district. Baker and Hamilton went Smith’s way.

Jacksonville Bold for 8.10.18 — Contenders, pretenders

We’ve hit the stretch of the primary season; where the money is being spent, not raised.

Where ads are cut, and voters engaged.

And where candidates know if they are still in the game.

No one comes out and says “well, it looks over.”

But losing candidates seem different.

We saw it with Adam Putnam, who won a Potemkin straw poll Monday in Jacksonville, but clearly seemed to be losing the war, even ahead of Wednesday’s debate.

Adam Putnam wins a Jacksonville-area straw poll, but is it enough?

We see it with Alvin Brown, whose campaign — and political career — seem to have gone up in smoke.

The Democratic candidates for Governor — well, four of them will lose, despite all maintaining a brave face in Thursday’s forum.

Optimism of months ago? Gone.

Soon enough, the cycle begins anew, with the necessary polarities of the general election.

But for now, we see the endgame of what has become a very long primary season.

Nelson, DeSantis win St. Johns straw polls

More than 550 votes were cast in straw polls from the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections office during the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce’s “Politics in St. Johns” series of events.

Candidate meet-and-greet style events were in Ponte Vedra on July 16 and St. Augustine on August 1.

While the polls were informal, there was at least one interesting result: Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson took a 19-vote victory over Gov. Rick Scott for the U.S. Senate contest.

Ron DeSantis takes the lead in a St. Johns Chamber straw poll.

In the race for Governor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis enjoys a 6-point lead, according to the straw poll, with 26 percent of the total vote. This result over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam more closely reflects the nine-point lead DeSantis enjoys in a statewide done held by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative.

The leading Democratic vote-getter — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum — took 19 percent of the total vote, leading the next closest Democratic candidate Gwen Graham, who earned 13 percent.

Republican Congressman John Rutherford also led his Democratic rival, George “Ges” Selmont, by 40 votes. In Florida’s 6th Congressional District, former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg took a significant lead over the field, besting the next highest vote-getter, Republican Michael Waltz, by nearly 40 votes (96-47).

The Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Renner in House District 24 race, Adam Morley, also scored a 10-vote victory.

Combined, the Chamber estimates nearly 1,000 people attended Politics in St. Johns events in 2018, the largest attendance since the Chamber launched the series in 2012.

“I am very pleased to see how this series has grown over the years; it means that people are becoming more engaged. We are proud to be able to provide a platform that will help St. Johns County residents make an informed voting decision,” Chamber President Isabelle Renault said.

Dullsville

Just hours after U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and former Jacksonville Mayor Brown threw elbows in a meeting with the Florida Times-Union editorial board, the two Democrats made their respective cases at a Jacksonville AME political forum.

Alvin Brown and Al Lawson seemed subdued Monday night.

The two have jousted throughout the campaign, exchanging jabs on everything from Lawson’s positions on Stand Your Ground and ICE, and Brown’s closeness to Corrine Brown and his alleged “failure” as Mayor.

After the two sat patiently through almost two hours of forums for school board and tax collector candidates, they finally got mic time (along with Republican Virginia Fuller, who is the party’s nominee by default) as the 9 p.m. hour approached.

Judging from the mailed-in performances, it may have been past all of their bedtimes. There was no new ground in answers. No new attacks. Just sedentary pantomimes of the kind of fiery oratory seen more often in these candidates’ news releases than their live deliveries.

Neither Brown nor Lawson was on his game. Brown had the gaffe of the night, however, saying he backed a “living wage — 15 cents an hour.”

He corrected himself.

“Fifteen DOLLARS an hour,” he amended.

Supplementary reading: Is Alvin Brown a hypocrite on charter schools?

CBC backs Lawson

On Tuesday, the majority of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Lawson ahead of the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District against Brown.

Is Al Lawson in position to run out the clock? (Image via Roll Call)

“I am honored to have the endorsement of so many of my colleagues in the CBC,” Lawson said. “They understand, as I do, the importance of fighting against some of the unfair policies of this current administration, protecting affordable health care for all Americans, protecting voting rights, ensuring access to quality public education, and strengthening marginalized communities all across the nation.”

Alvin Brown, according to sources who saw him in D.C. last year, was making the rounds of CBC members with former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to solicit D.C. support. The en masse endorsement of Lawson suggests that strategy failed. Brown got one CBC endorsement, from Missouri U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

Brown has pilloried Lawson as “Trump’s favorite Democrat,” painting him as out of step with the Democratic Party on some issues. The two have jousted throughout the campaign, exchanging jabs on everything from Lawson’s positions on “Stand Your Ground and ICE, to Brown’s closeness to Corrine Brown and his alleged “failure” as Mayor.

Lawson’s endorsements include prominent names, some with connections to Brown’s political past. One such: CBC chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond, is especially notable support given that Richmond campaigned for Alvin Brown in Jacksonville in 2015 when he lost his re-election bid for Mayor.

Still another endorsement for Lawson that must feel like a cruel cut: the backing of Brown’s former political mentor, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who Brown also namechecked during the Monday evening forum.

Bradley, Cummings back DeSantis

In a sign of the changing times in the Republican gubernatorial race, state Sen. Rob Bradley and state Rep. Travis Cummings endorsed U.S. Rep. DeSantis for Governor on Wednesday.

These endorsements, rolled out hours before DeSantis debated Putnam in Jacksonville, show the influential Clay County Republicans breaking with many Jacksonville elected officials and Republican activists, who fell in line behind Putnam when he seemed certain months back.

Count Rob Bradley on #TeamDeSantis.

“I’m proud to endorse Ron DeSantis for Governor of Florida.” Sen. Bradley said in a statement. “Our state needs strong, dependable leadership and Ron DeSantis is a proven conservative who will make a great Governor. He’s an Iraq veteran with a solid conservative record and the support of our President.”

“He’s demonstrated a fierce commitment to principle in Congress, and he will bring the same values to Tallahassee. I look forward to working with him to strengthen our economy, improve our education system and bring accountability to our government,” Bradley, who serves as the Senate Appropriations chair, said Wednesday.

“Ron DeSantis is a proven conservative leader with a strong record of service to our country both in Congress and in the military.” asserted Cummings, who chairs Health and Human Services in the House.

The open question: Will other Jacksonville-area endorsements fall into line for DeSantis?

While many Jacksonville pols, including U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, state Sen. Aaron Bean, and Jacksonville City Council Vice-President Aaron Bowman, have backed Putnam, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has — at least up until now — reserved an endorsement.

Bradley defends MMJ law

Despite a Tallahassee judge declaring significant parts of the state’s medical marijuana law unconstitutional, the law’s chief architect on Tuesday said he was confident the law would be affirmed.

No smoke, no problem, says Rob Bradley, who stands behind medical cannabis law on books.

“The trial court ruling injected unnecessary uncertainty into the emerging medical marijuana marketplace,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican. “I’m confident that our appellate courts will uphold (its) constitutionality.”

In 2017, lawmakers passed, and Gov. Rick Scott signed the measure (SB 8-A) into law to implement the state’s medicinal cannabis constitutional amendment, passed by 71 percent of voters the year before. Bradley was the primary sponsor.

In recent months, however, judges have been chipping away at the law, beginning with Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ ruling that Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner can grow and make juice of his own marijuana.

In another case, Gievers struck down the law’s ban on smoking medical marijuana, saying that conflicts with the amendment. The state is appealing both of those rulings.

Bradley disagreed: “Medical marijuana is being grown, processed and sold in a safe, orderly fashion today in Florida,” he told Florida Politics.

“As more companies come online, and the Department (of Health) fully implements an integrated seed-to-sale system and a delay-free ID card system, the system will develop into a model for other states,” he added.

The department regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

“Floridians rightfully expect to have access to safe, quality medical marijuana, and also expect that the product be regulated properly like any other medicine,” Bradley said. “SB 8-A accomplishes both goals.”

Senators’ green to keep Tallahassee red

Two influential Northeast Florida Senators, Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley and Regulated Industries Chair Travis Hutson, spent big in late July as part of an effort to maintain the Republican majority in the chamber.

Rob Bradley and Travis Hutson share hugs … and an interest in a GOP Senate majority.

On July 25, Bradley’s “Working for Florida’s Families” committee moved $150,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the vast majority of the committee’s spend in the week between July 21 and 27.

Defraying much of that spend was $70,000 worth of contributions from six groups, including the Florida Medical Association PAC and Florida Power & Light.

Bradley’s committee has nearly $800,000 on hand, suggesting flexibility for further support to the FRSCC or other friendly interests down the stretch.

Hutson’s First Coast Business Foundation committee also ponied up $50,000 on July 27.

Hutson’s two committees, FCBF and Sunshine State Conservatives, have between them $371,761. Hutson also has another $67,000 in his 2020 campaign account.

‘SYG’ Special Session?

Senate Minority Leader-designate Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, submitted her petition to call the Legislature into special session to address problems with the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Audrey Gibson’s “SYG” gambit won’t fly in a GOP state capital.

“Today I signed a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner to poll members of the Legislature for a special session to amend or repeal the ‘Stand Your Ground’ provisions in Chapter 776, Florida Statutes,” Gibson asserted.

“I signed the letter because a little boy watched his father be shot, and then die, after defending his mother from an irate man. The current statute has enabled murderous behavior, subjective interpretation, and questionable application by a sheriff, allowing an individual to potentially exact another murder in the same fashion as he roams free,” Gibson added.

“This presents a public safety hazard and is counter to the protections that should be afforded to all Floridians. While the Governor has the power to act through a Declaration of a State of Emergency in matters of public safety, his silence on Markeis McGlockton’s murder is clear indication that he is ignoring public safety and will do nothing.”

Michael Drejka killed McGlockton July 19 after a dispute over a parking space at a convenience store in Pinellas County got physical.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Drejka’s response to the altercation conforms with his read of the “Stand Your Ground” statute: “I’m not saying I agree with it. I don’t make the law. I enforce the law. Others can have the debate if it is right or not.”

Worst Democrat in Florida?

One of the smartest electoral analysts in the state, Democratic analyst Matthew Isbell, isn’t stoked about Rep. Kim Daniels winning her open Democratic primary this month against Duval County School Board chair Paula Wright.

Matt Isbell may complain, but Kim Daniels looks well-positioned.

“On Aug. 28, voters will go to the polls in Florida to cast votes in the primary election. The gubernatorial primary and a slew of congressional primaries are dominating the news. In an era where a politician can lose a primary for either being ‘not conservative enough’ or ‘not liberal enough’ — despite no other scandals — it is a shame to see one Florida politician appearing to escape serious threat: Kim Daniels,” Isbell notes.

“The frustrating thing for folks like myself is that Kim Daniels appears set to win reelection despite years of controversy and unacceptable views. Daniels only got an opponent at the last minute, and the primary wasn’t closed, ensuring Republicans could play spoiler in a race between two Democrats,” Isbell adds.

“Meanwhile, as conservatives flood in to aid Daniels, liberal aid has been more modest. The race just does not appear to be on the radar of Florida’s left-wing interests. State Democrats do not like Daniels at all, yet little effort is being made behind the scenes to aid Wright. Wright is fighting an underfunded and uphill battle against an incumbent mired in scandal and controversy. Daniels may well win on Aug. 28, despite being the least deserving of reelection of any Democrat in the state,” Isbell notes.

Daniels has a fundraising edge and has been hard to beat in Northwest Jacksonville. In this case, she is positioned to end Paula Wright’s political career.

Freeman Friday

Jacksonville’s motion to intervene in a legal challenge filed last month to a City Councilman appointed by Gov. Rick Scott will be heard in a Duval County hearing room at 2 p.m. Friday.

Terrence Freeman is settling in, but the legal challenge continues.

Judge Waddell Wallace, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 1999, will decide whether the city has legal standing regarding the case of Terrance Freeman, whose residency in District 10 is under challenge after the announcement of his appointment in July.

Filing the challenge is 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,

Priestly-Jackson says Freeman, who established residency in the district by renting two rooms in a private home the day he was appointed, was not a legitimate pick because he moved to Northwest Jacksonville solely to serve on the Council.

The city contends it has leeway to determine residency and that the suit 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.

Wallace to JAXBIZ

According to the Jacksonville Daily Record, Downtown Investment Authority CEO Aundra Wallace is on the move: he will be president of the JAXUSA Partnership starting in October.

Aundra Wallace. (Image via Folio Weekly)

He will replace outgoing Jerry Mallot.

Wallace, observed Daily Record commentator David Cawton, has been involved in much of the downtown development action the last five years — a time that included a drastic change in the Mayor’s Office.

However, Wallace was impervious, working well with the Curry administration on priority projects — most recently, the District development, which donor Peter Rummell will have city incentives to help him get going on the Southbank.

Man in the mirror

In 1984, there was no more prominent pop icon in the world than Michael Jackson. With the songs from 1982’s Thriller still resonating on the charts, he and his brothers thought the time was right for a family Victory tour.

Michael Jackson’s philanthropy will finally be put to use in Jacksonville.

The tour came to Jacksonville: a three-night Gator Bowl stint in a metropolitan area much less populous than it is today, with $30 tickets a measure of what a hot gig it was.

The concert was out of Jacksonville’s league, but proving that some things never change, the city spent $275,000 to make the gig happen.

That era is long gone now. The King of Pop has passed on. In a strange twist of fate, a small piece of his legacy will remain, to impact Jacksonville youth with musical aptitude.

Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa says Jackson “gifted the city $100,000 for music scholarships to deserving Duval County students seriously interested in and actively pursuing the study of music. The funds were placed in a City of Jacksonville Trust Fund; however, only the interest earnings therefrom may be spent on scholarships.”

“To the best of my knowledge and research,” Mousa asserted in an email last week, “no scholarships have been provided from the trust fund.”

The fund has earned $73,600 in interest, Mousa said. And while the $173,600 must remain in the fund, the city can use an anticipated $5,500 of projected interest this next fiscal year for scholarships, administered via the Kids Hope Alliance, Mayor Lenny Curry‘s reformed structure for children’s programs that budget at $41 million this year.

Airbnb follies

Unlike the majority of Florida counties, the city of Jacksonville can’t figure out what to do about Airbnb taxes. A recent audit suggests missed opportunities, with Duval County losing out on $366,000 in taxes due to an inability to match municipal code with reality.

The losses, a recent audit showed, are substantial: “$366,000 in Tourist Development and Convention Development Taxes just from Airbnb in the calendar year 2017 alone.”

Additionally, there are other companies like Airbnb so that collections could be more.

The problem: Single-family homes, per the city’s zoning code, do not permit what one city councilor called “transient” housing.

However, finding a solution won’t be so easy, Mousa said, noting that the arrangement is fundamentally illegal in Jacksonville.

Mousa is “reluctant to chase tourist development taxes” of “rentals in violation of ordinance code.”

To “chase the tax,” Mousa noted, is to “validate their existence … like going to the corner to the guy selling marijuana and asking where’s my sales tax.”

Mousa did not elaborate on where such corners may be.

However, other counties have figured it out. A misconception expressed in Council committees was that Airbnb would be averse to audits and the collection of back taxes. However, other counties have negotiated such deals, and it’s a mystery why Jacksonville can’t figure it out.

Expect movement on this issue in the coming months from Council President Aaron Bowman. For now, however, the city is left out of revenue collection, much as is the case with vehicles for hire — another gap in the code that has been unaddressed for years.

Too late

A state appeals court has blocked a Clay County judicial candidate from appearing on the ballot because she filed her paperwork too late.

“We recognize that the public policy of Florida generally favors letting the people decide the ultimate qualifications of candidates,” the 1st District Court of Appeal concluded Wednesday, in an opinion by Judge Kent Wetherell II. Judges Ross Bilberry and Kimberly Thomas concurred.

“However, absent special circumstances, public policy considerations cannot override the clear and unambiguous statutory requirement that all of the candidate’s qualifying paperwork must be received by the filing officer by the end of the qualifying period.”

The court upheld a ruling by a trial judge from the 7th Judicial Circuit, who heard the case because it originated in a motion filed by incumbent Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley.

According to the court record, Lucy Ann Hoover arrived at the county supervisor of elections office at 11:55 a.m. on May 4, just shy of the noon deadline. She filed her qualifying check at 11:57, but her candidate oath at 12:01 and her financial disclosure form at 12:12. The office accepted the late documents, and certified Hoover as a candidate, under a policy of requiring only that prospective candidates be physically present and filling out their paperwork before the deadline falls.

Mobley is a Rick Scott appointee. Joe Mobley, her husband, is a member of the Fiorentino Group.

Downtown Jax plans $63M ‘innovation corridor’

Plans are emerging for a multimillion-dollar high-tech corridor to run through downtown via Bay Street, connecting Jacksonville’s budding transportation center to TIAA Bank Field. The Jacksonville Business Journal reported that a bid for federal grant funding by city agencies include a $62.9 million plan for an “innovation corridor” — with 15 autonomous shuttles deployed between the Skyway infrastructure to surface streets, as well as an array of sensors that could detect gunshots, flooding and more. The corridor would also provide an incubator for emerging technologies.

A $63 million ‘innovation corridor’ could be down Bay Street. (Image via Jacksonville Business Journal)

The joint proposal — from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, JEA, the City of Jacksonville and Jax Chamber — is seeking $25 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation in a competitive grant program.

The innovation corridor is meant to be a proof of concept for two current initiatives: JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) — the evolution of the Jacksonville Skyway system — and the TPO’s Integrated Data Exchange. A fleet of autonomous vehicles would descend from Skyway’s 2.5-mile elevated infrastructure via offramps onto surface streets throughout downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, transforming the people-mover system into a 10-mile network.

JIA speeding security with bomb-sniffing dogs

Beginning this week, bomb-sniffing dogs are being employed to help speed up security checks at Jacksonville International Airport.

Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Sari Koshetz told Jenna Bourne of Action News Jax, that the dogs are helping travelers get through security lines faster. Passengers standing in line who are cleared by the dogs could move into an expedited security lane, eliminating the need to take off shoes, belt or jackets and leaving laptops in bags.

(Image via Action News Jax)

Dogs will also sniff passengers and airport employees at the gate.

TSA K-9 handler Donald “Bubba” Deason told WJAX that travelers should not be frightened by his K-9, Boomer.

“Some people have a fear of dogs. And they look at the dog and then they get, ‘I don’t want to go near the dog. I don’t want to go past the dog,’” Deason said. “And basically, we tell them the dog’s not going to hurt you. It doesn’t attack. All it wants to do is sniff.”

JIA to welcome new VIP lounge

A new VIP lounge is coming to Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville Aviation Authority unanimously approved this week.

Will Robinson of the Jacksonville Business Journal reports that the Authority agreed to enter a contract to develop a premium lounge, which will be available to customers from multiple airlines and customers who are willing to pay for a day of access.

A new premier lounge is heading to JIA.

“I think we’d be the smallest airport in the country with two VIP lounges,” said JAA CEO Steve Grossman.

Club JAX will open February 2019. It will be a 2,726-square-foot facility featuring a buffet with menus from local chefs, restrooms with showers and a children’s play area.

Texas-based ALD Development Corp. will spend at least $1 million to develop, manage and operate the 49-guest lounge,” Robinson noted. ALD is the nation’s largest developer of independent shared-use lounges, with 18 airport lounges in 13 airports internationally.

First-class passengers can use the lounge as part of an airline or card member rewards programs. Day passes will also be available.

“We are very confident this will be a busy lounge even without Frontier, JetBlue or Allegiant,” Graham Richards, ALD director of strategic network development, told the Business Journal. This includes airlines that don’t yet have lounge reward programs.

JAA will receive part of the lounge revenue, or $80,000 for the first contract year, whichever is higher. The initial agreement will be for seven years, with options to renew every year.

T-U praises JAA for inclusion

A Florida Times-Union mini-editorial is praising the Jacksonville Aviation Authority for winning a “nice award” from a leading airline industry trade group.

The JAA received an Inclusion Championship Award from the Airports Council International-North America for its promotion of local small businesses and workforce diversity.

“The JAA has held workshops, forums and other events to make business opportunities available for small businesses — and particularly for minority entrepreneurs.”

The Authority also won the inclusion award for embracing diversity within its organization.

Flagler Hospital employing AI for better patient care

Saint Augustine’s Flagler Hospital is turning to artificial intelligence to reduce costs and provide better care for patients.

Will Robinson of the Jacksonville Business Journal reports that Flagler is licensing software from California-based Ayasdi, an AI and data science company, for a Clinical Variation Management (CVM) application.

St. Augustine’s Flagler Hospital.

CVM will help standardize frequent care conclusions — pairing antibiotics with certain infections, length of stay decisions and defining appropriate testing, among others.

Clinical variations make up as much as 30 percent of typical health care costs, according to the Institute for Medicine. AI examines big data, taken from electronic medical records, billing and more, to help lower costs.

“We are delighted to engage with Ayasdi on this mission-critical task of creating clinical pathways for our patient population,” said Flagler chief medical informatics officer Dr. Michael C. Sanders. “Our ability to rapidly construct clinical pathways based on our own data and measure adherence by our staff to those standards provides us with the opportunity to deliver better care at a lower cost to our patients.”

New way to watch Jags games this year

Per WJCT, for the first time this year, Jaguars fans can watch preseason games on their smartphones, simply by visiting Jaguars.com/live.

The technology was rolled out Thursday for the game against the Saints, and will be used for the rest of the preseason — a useful and long-awaited add for those who might not have access to television or radio.

Almost as good as being there? Smartphone streaming available for preseason games.

“This season, the NFL has allowed us to expand access to our preseason game broadcasts via a digital stream, affording the Jaguars the opportunity to connect with more fans on multiple platforms and in more than one language,” said Jaguars President Mark Lamping in an email to WJCT News.

The Jaguars have been playing one home game in London since 2012. “The demand for NFL football continues to grow internationally, and the Jaguars have benefited from our aggressive support of the league’s global movement,” said Lamping.

Coaches get a good look at many players in preseason opener

The first preseason game brought excitement to fans, coaches and players for different reasons. Jaguars fans are looking to see those players who took them within an eyelash of last year’s Super Bowl.

Most of those in attendance knew that guys like quarterback Blake Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and cornerback Jalen Ramsey were likely to play only the first quarter. Those watching on television knew the same thing leading some to go on to do or watch something else.

The Jacksonville Jaguars may have looked good, but looks aren’t everything. (Image via Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Doug Marrone and his coaching staff already knew what those three and other starters could do. They were anxious for the second and third strings to show why they should be on the team or on the starting unit.

Obviously, those players wanted to show the coaches what they could do.

Going into Thursday’s game against the Saints, one of the questions was who would be Fournette’s backup on opening day? Would it be T.J. Yeldon or fourth-year back Corey Grant?

Would backup quarterback Cody Kessler look like he could fill in if Bortles missed any time during the season? How about impressive rookie wide receiver D. J. Chark, who has looked great in training camp?

Bortles looked terrific in his brief appearance, leading his team on a 79-yard touchdown drive to start the game. For those who stuck around, Kessler was poised during his two-plus quarters of play.

Yeldon maintained his hold on the backup running back position, while Grant was only able to gain 6 yards on 8 carries. Third-string receiver Shane Wynn showed a lot of speed, meriting a closer look.

The Saints won the game, 24-20, but Marrone will consider the night successful, if for no other reason than avoiding major injuries. Next Saturday, the Jaguars travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings.

37 Congressional Black Caucus members endorse Al Lawson’s reelection, as Alvin Brown reels

On Tuesday, the majority of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Rep. Al Lawson ahead of the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District against former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of so many of my colleagues in the CBC,” Lawson said. “They understand, as I do, the importance of fighting against some of the unfair policies of this current administration, protecting affordable health care for all Americans, protecting voting rights, ensuring access to a quality public education, and strengthening marginalized communities all across the nation.”

Alvin Brown, according to sources who saw him in D.C. last year, was making the rounds of CBC members with former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to solicit support. The en masse endorsement of Lawson suggests that strategy failed. Brown got one CBC endorsement, from Missouri U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

Brown has pilloried Lawson as “Trump’s favorite Democrat,” painting him as out of step with the Democratic Party on a number of issues. The two have jousted throughout the campaign, exchanging jabs on everything from Lawson’s positions on “Stand Your Ground and ICE, to Brown’s closeness to Corrine Brown and his alleged “failure” as mayor.

Lawson’s endorsements include prominent names, some with connections to Brown’s political past. One such, CBC chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond is an especially notable endorsement given that Richmond campaigned for Alvin Brown in Jacksonville in 2015, when he lost his reelection bid for Mayor.

Another endorsement for Lawson that has to feel like a cruel cut: the backing of Brown’s former political mentor, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, whom Brown namechecked during a Monday evening forum in Jacksonville.

Another prominent name, Rep. Barbara Lee, is notable, and Brown also mentioned her during the forum.

Also on board: former chairman and current U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, who likewise came to Jacksonville at the behest of former Corrine Brown to stump for Alvin Brown in 2015.

Florida Democratic U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Frederica Wilson also were on the list, in addition to prominent national Democrats such as Reps. Keith Ellison, Hakeem Jeffries, Elijah Cummings and Marcia Fudge.

Alvin Brown, Al Lawson deliver tepid performances in Jax AME forum

Just hours after U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown threw elbows in a meeting with the Florida Times-Union editorial board, the two Democrats made their respective cases at a Jacksonville AME political forum.

The two have jousted throughout the campaign, exchanging jabs on everything from Lawson’s positions on Stand Your Ground and ICE, and Brown’s closeness to Corrine Brown and his alleged “failure” as mayor.

After the two sat patiently through almost two hours of forums for school board and tax collector candidates, they finally got mike time (along with Republican Virginia Fuller, who is the party’s nominee by default) as the 9 p.m hour approached.

Spoiler alert: whatever fire and brimstone the two Dems had was, for reasons only known to them, left outside the doors of the Westside Jacksonville church.

Judging from the mailed-in performances, it may have been past all of their bedtimes. There was no new ground in answers. No new attacks. Just sedentary pantomimes of the kind of fiery oratory seen more often in these candidates’ press releases than their live deliveries.

Lawson, when asked about affordable housing, noted that Eureka Gardens (across the street from the forum) looked like something out of a “third world country” — a tacit jab at former Mayor Brown.

“There has not been much done by the city the last several years to make a change at Eureka Gardens,” Lawson said.

Brown didn’t take Lawson’s bait, instead talking about “mixed-use” housing proposals that would attract teachers or cops to live in the inner city, with the government paying half the cost of a house for these public service professions.

Brown, when asked what he would do about Medicare’s impending insolvency, noted he supports “healthcare for all” and spotlighted his work as mayor enrolling people in the Affordable Care Act.

Lawson vowed that “we’re not going to let Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security run out,” though as was the case with Brown, there was no real solution advanced for American entitlements hurtling over a fiscal cliff in the coming years.

Guns were next.

Lawson trotted out his now-familiar line that people don’t need assault rifles to hunt rabbits. Brown committed to “common sense gun reform,” including an assault weapon ban and ban on taking money from the NRA.

Pivoting to Stand Your Ground, Brown called for repeal — though he did not mention a familiar campaign talking point that Lawson voted for it when in Tallahassee.

Pressed for his biggest accomplishment and regret in Congress, Lawson noted his work for food relief after Hurricane Irma as an accomplishment. No regrets were enumerated. Lawson also noted his work to bring a veterans’ hospital to Jacksonville.

The same question went to Brown as Mayor. Brown took the opportunity to credit himself for job creation (36,000 new jobs) and “supporting our veterans,” as well as educational reforms such as the Learn2Earn program.

Lawson went on to note his record representing populations throughout North Florida.

“I know I have the energy, the ability to represent this area quite well,” Lawson said. “I have a record.”

Fuller, curiously, knocked her opponents for getting funding from Republican donors. By contrast, she is not getting funding from anyone, she said.

Brown, meanwhile, said he had the best “vision” to represent the region, with proposals for a “living wage — fifteen cents an hour.”

He corrected himself.

“Fifteen dollars an hour,” he said.

 

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