Alvin Brown Archives - Page 3 of 52 - Florida Politics

Accepting teacher endorsements, Alvin Brown decries charter schools … but takes Gary Chartrand’s money

Alvin Brown, challenging U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, scored some key endorsements from The Florida Education Association and Duval Teachers United Monday.

Interestingly, Brown spotlighted a different position on one key issue than Lawson in accepting the endorsements.

“Unfortunately,” Brown said, “there’s a long-running trend toward giving for-profit charter school operators greater influence in the state’s public education system. Unlike my opponent who’s put Florida’s children at risk with his reckless support for school vouchers, I firmly believe that taxpayers should not be rewarding for-profit companies at the expense of underfunded public schools.”

Brown, however, has gotten money from the most prominent of those “for-profit charter school operators,” part of a steady stream of Republican donations.

Gary Chartrand has led a list of Republican donors to Brown’s campaign, a list including Jacksonville lobbyist Marty FiorentinoPreston Haskell, former Republican Jacksonville City Councilman Stephen Yoost, former CSX President Michael Ward, current Jaguars owner Shad Khan, and former Jaguars’ owner Wayne Weaver.

The blast at charter schools, while useful fodder for a Democratic primary debate, is belied by Brown taking charter school money — and served as a distraction from what otherwise would be the standard endorsement email, with anodyne quotes such as these below.

“The Florida Education Association is proud to endorse Alvin Brown for Florida’s 5th District because he understands that the road to economic prosperity begins with our public schools,” FEA President Joanne McCall said Monday.

“In Congress,” McCall added, “Mayor Brown will be a strong voice for educators. He knows that our students are more than just a test score, that schools need adequate resources and that we must pay teachers and education staff professionals what they deserve. As a staunch advocate for Florida working families, Mayor Brown will fight for an economy that works for all — not just a privileged few.”

The local teachers union was somewhat more specific in its advocacy for Alvin Brown.

Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady said, “Alvin Brown shares our values and vision of a Florida in which all of our children can receive a quality education regardless of zip code. Having seen his dedication to Jacksonville families firsthand, I know Alvin will work hard on behalf of all Florida students and our educators in Congress. He’s a true friend of public education who has innovated locally to position our children for success with programs such as ‘Mayor’s Mentors’ and ‘Learn2Earn.’ Duval Teachers United proudly stands with Mayor Brown because he stands with us.”

Neither group forced Brown to hammer his opponent on charter schools. That was his own decision.

Brown, billing himself as a “pragmatic progressive” these days, has evolved from his previous “conservative Democrat persona.” That evolution, at least when it comes to the gap between donor relationships and rhetoric for the voting public, is still in progress.

Jacksonville Bold for 8.3.18 — Home stretch

For political watchers, August offers an embarrassment of riches in this market.

A number of competitive and contested primaries, including one open Democratic primary and a citywide race for tax collector.

Not to mention the state races, including one competitive primary for governor and one that appears to be all but decided.

For those keeping score, at this point, it’s pretty easy to keep score.

The months of fundraising and endorsement hunting, of compromises and negotiations, of meet and greets — all but over now, with vote-by-mail underway and early voting soon enough.

Did they put in the work? Voters know that about candidates by now.

No election is won without a long-range plan. Politics is a game of ambition tempered with deliberation.

It’s true everywhere, a truth reflected in this week’s Bold.

Alvin Brown stumbles in radio hit

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown continued his recent media blitz on Jacksonville outlets by taking calls on WJCT‘s First Coast Connect Tuesday morning.

Can Alvin Brown win back Corrine Brown’s seat? (Image via Jax Daily Record)

Brown, who had managed not to say anything newsworthy in his two television spots over the weekend, described himself as “the Democrat who’s going to stand up to Donald Trump” and “challenge the status quo” — a marked shift from four years in City Hall where he offered little challenge to extant paradigms.

And ultimately, as was the case when we interviewed him in late June, questions about his tenure in City Hall still loom over his campaign, three years after he left the St. James Building.

When confronted by host Melissa Ross with a quote from his opponent, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, saying that Brown’s record as mayor was subpar and that Brown called him and said “he wanted to be just like me,” Brown dodged the question, returning to talking points like “36,000 new jobs” familiar to those around in his 2015 re-election bid.

Brown was also asked about his pivot to the left from a “conservative Democrat” posture he asserted as recently as the 2015 reelection bid, including a failure to get Human Rights Ordinance expansion through after a 2012 vote against LGBT rights expansion.

Brown said he “focused on the issues that mattered the most,” which involved the economy and pushing for a “living wage,” again dodging the question that nettled LGBT and progressive voters in Jacksonville.

When asked if his move left was genuine, Brown dodged that question too, saying that he opposed “bullying, discrimination, and violence,” and that he enacted LGBT protections in City Hall.

Actually, though, that was Lenny Curry’s executive order.

Indivisible bets on Soderberg in CD 6

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg scored another key endorsement Monday in her bid for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, when the local Indivisible United Florida 6th District endorsed her candidacy.

Nancy Soderberg looks like the favorite in CD 6. She has deep Jacksonville ties.

“Nancy exemplifies the leadership qualities we seek in an individual to represent the constituents of this district in Washington, D.C.,” said Becky Berman, Co-Leader of Indivisible United Florida 6th District.

“Grassroots groups like Indivisible United Florida 6th District are helping lead the movement for new leadership in our district,” Soderberg said.

“Their hard work and dedication is critical to winning this seat in November. Our people-driven, grassroots campaign will continue working with committed local groups like Indivisible to bring change to FL-06. I am thrilled to have their endorsement and am proud to fight alongside these local leaders,” Soderberg added.

The endorsement from the local Indivisible group is another boost for a strong, disciplined campaign intent on flipping the east-central Florida seat from Ron DeSantis red to Democrat blue.

A survey released last week from St. Pete Polls showed Soderberg up big, with her 30 percent support amounting to more than opponents Steve Sevigny (10 percent) and John Upchurch (13 percent) combined.

Casey DeSantis goes national

Casey Black DeSantis, one of the most familiar faces on the Jacksonville media landscape, went national this week via an ad for the Ron DeSantis gubernatorial campaign.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

“Everyone knows my husband Ron DeSantis is endorsed by President Trump. But he’s also an amazing dad. Ron loves playing with the kids,” Casey DeSantis says, kicking off an ad that attempts to meld humor and the presentation of her husband as a family man.

The spot features DeSantis exhorting a child to “build the wall” using giant construction blocks, reading to a child from “The Art of the Deal,” and teaching a child to read from a Trump sign.

“Make America great again,” DeSantis reads to one of his offspring.

“People say Ron is all-Trump, but he’s really so much more,” Mrs. DeSantis quips, as the camera pans to a child of tender age in a crib, wearing a Make America Great Again onesie.

“Big league,” the candidate says, “so good.”

The ad was derided on social media; however, the campaign estimates that the total reach equaled a million dollars of paid exposure.

Greene works Northeast Florida

On Monday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene made the rounds in Northeast Florida, a bus tour that included a number of Jacksonville stops.

Jeff Greene gave out backpacks (and campaign swag) at a Jacksonville school.

At one of them — a back-to-school backpack giveaway at Northwestern Middle School — we caught up with the candidate, who per at least one recent poll of the race is within 6 points of leader Gwen Graham.

Greene, as one might expect, projected confidence.

Noting that he has only been in the campaign since mid-June, Greene asserted that he’s “running against candidates who have been running for a year and a half.”

“I’m really thrilled,” Greene said, “that an electorate that had not been excited is suddenly getting excited and we’re doing better than we even expected.”

“The reaction I’m getting as we drive down the road — people honking their horns, thumbs up. We get off the bus and crowds have been great everywhere. The message has been getting through; Democrats are tired of losing,” Greene said.

Dirty campaign?

With the Democratic gubernatorial primary fast approaching, some of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s most controversial allies are pushing an ad attacking front-runner Gwen Graham.

Some hand-wringing from Jax Dems about third-party spending on behalf of Andrew Gillum.

It started Monday: a $500,000 ad buy in Jacksonville, Tampa, and West Palm Beach via the Collective Super PAC.

This is not the first ad buy by the group hitting a negative message on Graham.

The new spot, “Zero Regrets,” attacks Graham for touting “progressive credentials despite voting with banks, supporting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, and publicly undermining President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to get reelected,” asserts the Collective group.

The group, after this buy, will have committed over $1.75 million to Gillum.

A pair of Jacksonville Democratic members of the Jacksonville City Council blasted Gillum for the ads.

“Andrew Gillum is running a dirty campaign. He is the only candidate in the race supporting negative Super PAC ads and he is the only candidate attacking his fellow Democrats — more than the Republicans are even attacking our party,” Garrett Dennis said.

“Mayor Gillum likes to say we need to give voters something to vote for — not against. If his campaign and Super PAC followed his own advice, maybe they would be doing better in this race,” Dennis added.

Dennis’ colleague Tommy Hazouri added that “The Republicans are loving to watch as Andrew Gillum embraces secret money and attacks Gwen Graham with Super PAC money. This irresponsible sham weakens our party, and makes it harder for us to win the General Election.”

Daniels holds cash lead

As of July 20, the last date for which campaign finance data is available, House District 14 incumbent Rep. Kim Daniels is still well ahead of Democratic challenger Paula Wright.

Kim Daniels, per the Florida Chamber, is the best Dem bet for business in the House.

In the money chase ahead of the open Democratic primary, Daniels raised $7,642, and spent $13,420, between July 7 and July 20. She has just over $21,500 on hand.

Of the contributions, $5,000 came in five $1,000 checks from a North Miami Beach address housing a gaggle of dialysis companies. Also contributing: former Republican candidate for 4th Circuit State Attorney Wes White, as well as Harry Rummell of the Peter Rummell family.

Of the over $13,000 spent, the majority was on campaign materials, food for workers, et al. Daniels is also employing a consultant with some name value, former state Rep. Terry Fields, who was paid $1,700 during the period.

Wright, whose fundraising was slow out of the gate, showed some improvement on the last report filed in June; she raised $5,364 and spent $1,020. All told, she has roughly $7,000 on hand.

More endorsements for Polson

More and more Jacksonville Democrats are lining up to endorse first-time candidate Tracye Polson in House District 15.

The Trayce Polson campaign is not fading away, and the seat could flip blue this fall.

HD 15 is currently Rep. Jay Fant‘s seat, but he opted to leave it months back to run for Attorney General. Polson — the cash leader in the race — hopes to turn the typically deep red seat blue.

And Jacksonville Democrats back her, almost without exception. Three more endorsements — from Rep. Tracie Davis, Jacksonville City Council Member Garrett Dennis and former Rep. Mia Jones — dropped Tuesday.

More will be coming.

Davis lauded Polson’s “passion for improving education” and “endorsement of Duval County teachers,” describing her as a “professional listener” with “compassion and vision.”

Polson lauded the trio’s “commitment and dedication to our city … not just Democratic values, but for policies that reflect and help every community and neighborhood in Jacksonville.”

For Polson, the endorsements are the latest sign of momentum.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, who aligns with the three latest endorsers, backs her. As do EMILY’s List, the Sierra Club, and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gwen Graham.

Her endorsements come from beyond her party as well: the nonpartisan Jacksonville Firefighters and the Fraternal Order of Police threw down, as did former GOP mayoral candidate Audrey Moran.

And what’s more, she has the cash lead.

Fischer in control in HD 16

Rep. Jason Fischer, a first-term Republican from Jacksonville’s House District 16, continued to maintain a strong lead over his Democratic opponent Ken Organes in the latest filings.

Jason Fischer seeks a second term in the House.

Neither faces primary opposition; this is a race to November.

In the two weeks between July 7 and July 20, Fischer brought in $7,800 to his campaign account, with an additional $11,500 raised by his political committee, Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville.

Contributions of over $1,000 came from familiar names: the Jacksonville Kennel Club; JAX BIZ (the political committee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce); Wayne Weaver; CSX Transportation; Duke Energy PAC; and Peter Rummell were all represented on the committee or hard money side.

Between committee and campaign account funds, Fischer has roughly $185,000 on hand.

Organes, a first-time candidate and a retiree from the aforementioned CSX Transportation, brought in $5,326 in the two week period, giving him approximately $27,500 on hand.

Ray tax collector bid backed by gun lobby

The National Rifle Association has an interest in the four-way race for Duval County Tax Collector, with the gun lobby backing former state Rep. Lake Ray.

A familiar orange mailer from the group trumpets Ray’s A+ rating on gun issues, giving the Jacksonville Republican another boost ahead of the August primary.

Ray has maintained a cash lead over his three opponents, and that continued in reports released by the four campaigns Friday.

Lake Ray is enjoying support from the NRA in his bid for tax collector.

Ray has raised and self-financed a total of $143,435, with roughly $109,000 of that on hand still. Of the $6,500 brought in during the most recent two-week reporting period (July 7-20), the biggest name contributor was Sleiman Holdings.

Worth noting: Toney Sleiman, the strip mall magnate embroiled in ongoing litigation with the city of Jacksonville over the dilapidated Landing, is at odds with fellow Republican Mayor Lenny Curry. It will be interesting to see if Curry endorses someone besides Ray, who at times has proved to be too independent of the mayor’s priorities.

Ray is spending money now: He dropped $22,863 in the most recent reporting period, the bulk of it on printing and mailing costs.

Shaver dithers, dumps consultant

This week saw movement in a story we covered last week, regarding St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver and a political consultant with whom she and other St. Augustine pols did a lot of business.

Bad for business: Mayor Nancy Shaver dumps controversial consultant, but may be too late to matter.

St. Augustine’s Daniel Carter accused well-connected local political blogger Michael Gold, whose Historic City News website attracts advertising from many prominent local politicians, of sending him a racist email.

As Carter wrote on Facebook: “Calling out a news outlet for being a racist piece of ____ and in turn, the editor-in-chief responds with overt racist remarks confirming that he is, in fact, a racist piece of ____.”

Shaver, when we talked to her, feigned ignorance. Yet, as WJCT reported this week, she evolved, asserting that the consultant’s email was “vile,” and that she would pull advertising.

Shaver, per campaign finance records, was spending less with Gold than she had in previous cycles. However, with an election just weeks away, it’s by no means certain that her delayed reaction to a consultant calling a constituent “lazy and shiftless” (among other racist phrases) will reassure anyone.

Dogs to relieve anxious flyers at JIA

Jax Paws, a program where K-9s and their handlers will help comfort anxious passengers at Jacksonville International Airport, launched this week, reports Action News Jax.

There are several advantages for having comfort dogs at the airport, says Anne Bell with Jax Paws: “It really has been proven that physiologically it calms the person, lowers the blood pressure … people seem to respond well to the dogs.”

Specially trained dogs help relieve anxiety at Jacksonville International. (Image via Action News Jax)

More than a dozen dogs are part of the program, which will begin at JIA from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends.

volunteers can soon begin walking dogs in the airport, after passing the licensing process.

“Probably give this two or three months to see how this goes and then open this up to other handlers,” Bell told Action News.

JTA expands bus service to Yulee, Nassau County

JTA will soon be offering direct bus service between Yulee and Jacksonville.

On Tuesday, JTA Board approved an interlocal agreement with the Nassau County Council on Aging/NassauTRANSIT, creating the Nassau-Duval Regional Express Bus Service, per WJCT.

Service will start Dec. 3.

Starting December, JTA will begin service to Nassau County.

“We will be launching the Red Line which is the next corridor, known as the East Corridor, of the First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit System,” said JTA spokeswoman Leigh Ann Rassler in a statement to reporters. “And so, when we launch the Red Line, we’ve got some other enhancements, and this fits nicely into those changes,”

The service will include two morning and three evening trips between Yulee and Jacksonville.

“We are excited about offering another public transportation option to all residents in Nassau County,” Janice Ancrum, NCCOA President and CEO, told WJCT. “JTA has the expertise and resources to leverage NassauTRANSIT’s mobility services within and across our own county.”

The Florida Department of Transportation will fund the program for the first three years.


Appointed Arezou Jolly (reappointed) to Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

Jaguars: We’re number 8!

Training camp is in full swing with workouts designed to get the team ready for the season opener. Goal number one is to survive the next four weeks with no devastating injuries.

If that happens, the Jaguars are projected to be one of the NFL’s elite teams in 2018. As a sign of the respect they gained by their postseason run last year, USA Today’s NFL Power Rankings lists Jacksonville as the eighth-best team in the league.

We’re No. 8! (Image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Of course, all of these rankings are subjective and those involved in ranking the teams clearly believe the NFC is much stronger than the AFC. No fewer than 6 of the top 7 teams come from the NFC.

The New England Patriots are the highest-rated AFC team, coming in at number two. The Jaguars are the next-highest team, just as the two teams finished the 2017 season.

Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia is the top-ranked team.

AFC South Division foes Houston and Tennessee came in at number 11 and 12, respectively. Indianapolis is ranked No. 31 out of 32 teams.

There are good reasons for the high rankings for the Texans’ and Titans’ ranking. They have the easiest, and second-easiest schedules in the league for 2018 while Jacksonville’s strength of schedule is listed as a tie for No. 25.

The Jaguars open their preseason schedule on Thursday against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field.

If they avoid the injury bug through four preseason games, they will be completely satisfied to still be ranked number 8 heading into the season opener on September 9 against the New York Giants.

Gloves off: Alvin Brown, Al Lawson bash each other in heated interview

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and current U.S. Rep. Al Lawson were jointly interviewed by the Tallahassee Democrat Thursday.

There were some highlights, both in terms of policy distinctions and personal attacks, in what was the most substantive interview either candidate has conducted during this campaign.

The session heated up with discussion of gun rights — a big talking point in this campaign.

Lawson stood his ground on voting for Stand Your Ground, noting that it protected homeowners from prosecution when protecting themselves.

“We really need to go back and have the Florida Legislature look at it … the law is being interpreted wrong,” Lawson said, repeating that homeowners need protection.

Brown, meanwhile, wanted to “scrap” Stand Your Ground altogether, citing the killings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.

“People use it as an excuse,” Brown said.

Brown was compelled to defend his record as Jacksonville Mayor, noting that he’d brought jobs and companies and private investment to Jacksonville, repeating scripts the Florida Democratic Party wrote in his failed re-election campaign.

“The Mayor’s record was a disaster … the budget was in disarray … areas like Eureka Gardens looked like a third world country,” Lawson said.

“Alvin was absent. Sleeping on the job … with chauffers and everyone carrying him around in Jacksonville. The people decided they didn’t want him back as Mayor. He didn’t do a good job,” Lawson contended.

Brown contended he “showed up for work every day” and did “tremendous work” for the people of Jacksonville, focusing on “long-term economic development to get people back to work.”

“You don’t get approval deepening the harbor by not showing up,” Brown contended.

Brown also defended his response to crime as being rooted in “prevention and intervention,” with the sheriff “whose job is for public safety.”

Brown also had to address his botch of the Human Rights Ordinance process, eliding what some say was active opposition, saying he’d enacted protections for LGBT employees in City Hall, but “City Council didn’t pass it.”

Brown said he “at no time was against the legislation at all.” Lawson called him a liar.

“That community is totally against the mayor,” Lawson said. “If he had done what he stated, they would support him. They don’t support him. He had the opportunity and he went out the back door.”

Lawson had to answer for characterizations that he was Trump’s lackey and on the right of Brown, a liability in a closed Democratic primary.

Lawson noted he “clapped for the President” at the State of the Union when he said unemployment was low for blacks and Hispanics, but Brown was only using the issue because he had no issues to run on.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a moderate,” Lawson said, noting that he represented very conservative counties in the Florida Legislature.

Brown was asked if he thought Lawson was racist (an echo of the 2015 mayoral campaign, when racism became a talking point in a debate); Brown said Lawson supported “Trump’s agenda.”

“He’s not showing up for work … at the end of the day, he supports Trump’s agenda … supports ICE,” Brown said. “He supports Trump more than any Congressional Black Caucus member.”

“He says one thing, and he’ll do another,” Brown said.

Lawson said he voted with Democrats 98 percent of the time, and repeated his claim that Brown lacks issues to run on.

Lawson also noted that he wants to “reform ICE,” and “all of us know they need to be reformed.” Brown noted that he also wants ICE reform.

Lawson offered surprises, including advocacy for decriminalizing marijuana, citing Denver (!!!!) as a model; Brown concurred that it should be decriminalized.

“It’s clogging up our legal system,” Lawson contended.

Brown went on to say, like Lawson did, that Colorado offered a model for the future of cannabis.

Both also agreed that they would vote to impeach the President.

Corrine Brown (who Lawson defeated in 2016) came up, as well, with Alvin Brown noting that in her case, “the justice system has spoken.” Brown stands by a letter he wrote on Corrine’s behalf “100 percent.”

Lawson, who some say wanted to write a letter on behalf of Corrine himself, noted that the Browns had been in D.C. and elsewhere “soliciting support.”

“It could be his relative. They have the same last name. They’re very close,” Lawson said, “even though he ran against her twice.”

“Mayor Brown was saying he’d wait until after her sentence and get in the race,” Lawson said, noting that Brown used to “say he wanted to be like” him.

Brown denied flatly that he had been to D.C. as a pre-candidate with Corrine Brown or that he had worked with her on fundraising, then went pious.

“Corrine Brown is a Christian … I don’t think it’s appropriate to kick someone when they’re down,” Brown said.

Historic controversies haunt Alvin Brown on Jacksonville radio hit

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown continued his recent media blitz on Jacksonville outlets by taking calls on WJCT‘s First Coast Connect Tuesday morning.

Brown, who had managed not to say anything newsworthy in two television appearances over the weekend, described himself as “the Democrat who’s going to stand up to Donald Trump” and “challenge the status quo” — a marked shift from four years in City Hall where he offered little challenge to extant paradigms.

And ultimately, as was the case when we interviewed him in late June, questions about his tenure in City Hall still loom over his campaign for the 5th Congressional district, three years after he left the St. James Building.

When confronted by host Melissa Ross with a quote from his opponent, U.S. Al Lawson, saying that Brown’s record as mayor was subpar and that Brown called him and said “he wanted to be just like me,” Brown dodged the question, returning to talking points like “36,000 new jobs” familiar to those around in his 2015 re-election bid.

Brown was also asked about his pivot to the left from a “conservative Democrat” posture he asserted as recently as the 2015 reelection bid, including a failure to get Human Rights Ordinance expansion through after a 2012 vote against LGBT rights expansion.

Brown said he “focused on the issues that mattered the most,” which involved the economy and pushing for a “living wage,” again dodging the question that nettled LGBT and progressive voters in Jacksonville.

When asked if his move left was genuine, Brown dodged that question too, saying that he opposed “bullying, discrimination, and violence,” and that he enacted LGBT protections in City Hall.

“I never went against the community,” Brown said.

Brown then pivoted to accusing Lawson of being “Trump’s favorite Democrat,” citing Lawson’s vote against abolishing ICE (even as Brown said he wanted to “reform” not abolish the agency) and alleged support for the National Rifle Association.

The HRO issue came up on the first call, with a caller saying Brown “did nothing to support the HRO” despite assurances in 2011 to the contrary, and that he couldn’t believe anything Brown says because of that.

“I don’t have an issue with the gay community,” Brown said, adding that he supported their right to marry. “I don’t know what more I can say.”

“You’ve got to build trust. It takes time,” Brown, who has been courting Jacksonville voters for the better part of a decade, said.

Brown also had to address not appearing at a Barack Obama rally, saying he wasn’t in town when Obama rallied locally, but that he was a delegate to the 2012 convention and did appear with Obama at JAXPORT.

“I supported the President. I voted for him,” Brown asserted. “Was a delegate for the President.”

Brown, when asked about his strategy in the sprawling east/west 5th Congressional District, noted he’s been campaigning “in all eight counties … a grassroots campaign.”

Endorsements thus far have been elusive from those counties, most of them won handily by Lawson against Corrine Brown in 2016.

As well, Brown has faced a cash deficit: Brown announced Friday that he had raised over $165,000 in the second quarter, and had $144,360 cash-on-hand. Lawson, according to his FEC report, kept pace with $136,514 raised — and more importantly, holds an edge with $219,272 on hand.

Ironically, for a candidate running to the left of the incumbent in a Democratic primary, much of Brown’s support has come from Jacksonville Republicans, including but not limited to Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan — a big backer of Republicans like Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Gov. Rick Scott.

Jacksonville Bold for 7.27.18 — Same s**t, different place

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry stirred things up on Twitter this week, essentially declaring total war against his electoral competition.

“Same s%#t different place. Elected office is loaded w/amateurs. Folks w/no ability to implement ideas. Many are full of empty rhetoric & a false sense of self. They survive on the bottom w cheap talk. We will retire some in the fights that matter When it matters,” Curry said.

As compared to the anodyne public personae of his immediate predecessors, Curry’s unvarnished criticisms of “amateurs” with “empty rhetoric,” a “false sense of self,” and “cheap talk” are brutal.

Lenny Curry: ‘Same s**t, different location.’

Curry has not been shy this cycle about supporting friends. His political consultant is handling a number of local campaigns, both for state House and Jacksonville City Council.

Curry, with roughly $1.75 million banked, may or may not face electoral competition. Former Council President Anna Brosche is mulling a run, even as Curry keeps banking a quarter-million dollars or so every month.

Media members have mocked the declaration. Unaffiliated Republican consultants wonder what’s wrong with the mayor. Some say he sounded unhinged. Others opine that the tweet is unprofessional.

Whatever it is, though, Curry — much like President Donald Trump — is setting the narrative, compelling opponents and critics to react.

How and when do they throw down? Is it already too late?

‘This girl, or whatever she is’

Rep. Ron DeSantis wasn’t expected to say anything particularly off script in his Orange Park appearance Saturday, but an offhand remark got national attention.

Ron DeSantis was more quotable in Orange Park than Jacksonville.

The Republican candidate for governor, per Huffington Post, “referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democratic congressional nominee who is seen as a rising star in her party, as ‘this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.’”

“You look at this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe,” he said to laughs. “It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance.”

David Vasquez, a spokesman for DeSantis’ campaign, said that the congressman’s comments were “expanding on the importance of education” and that teaching students more about the Constitution might “prevent more socialists like Ocasio-Cortez calling for ‘free’ everything.”

Soderberg up big with CD 6 Dems

A poll released Tuesday shows that if the Democratic primary were held today in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg would defeat both her male opponents.

Hours after the poll dropped, Nancy Soderberg pushed out a fundraising pitch.

The survey from St. Pete Polls gave Soderberg 30 percent support, more than opponents Steve Sevigny (10 percent) and John Upchurch (13 percent) combined.

However, there is still room for movement; 46 percent of respondents are currently undecided.

The poll has a sample size of 420, 4.8 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level.

With female voters, Soderberg has a 22-point lead over her nearest opponent. Nevertheless, the survey also suggests she is having a harder time closing the deal with men, with whom Soderberg only has an eight-point lead over Upchurch.

As well, per the poll, the older the voter is, the more likely that voter will support Soderberg. The former ambassador has double-digit leads with voters aged 30-49 (12 percent), 50-69 (18 percent), and 70+ (18 percent).

Soderberg is well-positioned to make her case with undecided voters, with nearly $1.5 million in total fundraising since she entered the race and $981,790 cash on hand.

ICE heats up Dem primary in CD 5

The Democratic primary battle in Florida’s 5th Congressional District between U.S. Congressman Al Lawson and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is heating up.

And ICE is one reason why.

Al Lawson, Alvin Brown continued jousting on the issue of ICE this week.

Last week, Lawson found himself voting with Republicans (and against many Democrats) on a key issue: the future of the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Lawson was just one of 18 Democrats voting in favor of ICE, which is under fire of late due to the internment of migrant children.

Suffice it to say Lawson had no regrets over his vote.

“You’ve got to have some kind of border security. You can’t just have open borders,” Lawson said. “They need to be reformed, but they do other things besides immigration. Protection [against] traffickers — drug traffickers, human traffickers and everything else.”

“The Democrats — someone had a protest vote to say ‘present,’ but there’s no such vote as ‘present.’ They would refuse to vote to get rid of them. They voted present. I’m just not that kind of person.”

“You’ve got to reform them, but you can’t just get rid of them. That’s probably the worst decision that we made, saying that we’re going to get rid of ICE,” Lawson said.

“They were led by Maxine Waters, you know, in California. But really, it’s not the issue.”

Brown took the weekend to formulate a response to the incumbent’s ICE advocacy, but once he finally did it was full of fire.

Read more here.

Also see: Lawson, Brown serve BBQ in Leon County.

U.S. Senator backs Polson in HD 15

In yet another sign House District 15 Democratic nominee Tracye Polson is getting some interest from well outside Jacksonville, the campaign touted an endorsement from a U.S. Senator.

First-term Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen endorsed Polson in the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jay Fant, citing firsthand knowledge of what the candidate brings to the table.

Chris Van Hollen is the latest big endorsement for Trayce Polson’s campaign.

“I have firsthand knowledge of Dr. Tracye Polson’s remarkable expertise and leadership having been a board member of an organization — where Tracye spent 12 years ending in the role of Executive Director — whose mission is focused on early childhood mental health and education. She is expert, caring and trustworthy,” Van Hollen asserted.

Polson said it was “an honor to be endorsed by U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen who has earned bipartisan respect and worked across the aisle to file this year a bill to protect our democracy through the Defending Elections Act (DETER).”

This bill, co-sponsored with Florida Republican Marco Rubio, would use economic and criminal sanctions to punish foreign interference in American elections.

Polson and Van Hollen go back almost two decades.

Polson, with $127,000 on hand as of the most recent report, still holds a narrowing cash lead against the Republican field. Lobbyist Wyman Duggan had almost $123,000 on hand (and is already up on television), with opponents Mark Zeigler ($32,482 on hand) and Joseph Hogan ($12,537) well behind.

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

Daniels late with campaign finance report, ahead in money race

State Rep. Kim Daniels, a first-term Democrat in Northwest Jacksonville’s House District 14, has been fined for filing a campaign finance report late earlier this summer.

Kim Daniels appears to have the inside track in an open primary.

Daniels missed the deadline for the June 29 report, per the Division of Elections, with the report eventually filed on July 7, resulting in a fine of $450.96.

That report covered the first three weeks of June, a period in which Daniels reported no fundraising and a primary expenditure of paying her campaign filing fee. The fine appears to be the maximum 25 percent of that filing fee.

Despite this glitch, Daniels appears to have a strong advantage in what is an open primary race in HD 14.

Daniels, a first-term lawmaker often friendly to GOP interests, has $47,227 raised with almost $28,000 of that on hand.

Much of that was Republican money. Democrats have called Daniels a DINO and worse off record, but for the second straight cycle, they seem unable to do anything about the GOP picking a winner in a Democratic primary.

Opponent Paula Wright is far behind in fundraising, with just $3,501 on hand.

See also: How the Florida Star slimed Paula Wright.

NRA says ‘ABC’ to McBurney’s latest judge bid

“Anybody but Charles”: that’s the message from the National Rifle Association regarding former state Rep. Charles McBurney‘s bid for a judgeship in Florida’s 4th Circuit.

A mailer in Duval County mailboxes this week reprises a number of charges against McBurney, with the idea of stopping his current electoral bid for a judgeship just as the gun lobby did McBurney’s bid for an appointment from Gov. Rick Scott in 2016.

The candidate’s “actions as a legislative chairman,” per the NRA, make McBurney “unfit for the bench — any bench — anywhere.”

Anybody but Charles McBurney: A movement is rising against the former state Rep.

“It’s as simple as A-B-C: vote for anybody but Charles McBurney,” the mailer adds.

The pique between the gun lobby and the former four-term Republican legislator from Jacksonville goes back to the 2016 Legislative Session.

McBurney, who chaired the House Judiciary Committee in 2016, tabled a bill that would have shifted the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.

McBurney was passed over for the gubernatorial appointment that went to Judge Robert Dees.

Opponents say it’s easy as A-B-C.

McBurney holds a significant cash on hand advantage, thus far, over his opponent — former prosecutor turned family law attorney Maureen Horkan.

Heavily self-financed Horkan has roughly $4,300 on hand. McBurney, backed by an impressive cross-section of the legal community, has over $105,000 in cash.

However, the NRA imprimatur may help shake some of the conservative support McBurney has down the stretch.

Election year budget for Curry

Curry rolled out on Monday his administration’s fourth budget, one continuing an upward trajectory of spending since 2015, without a tax increase.

A fat CIP and no millage rate increase. Could this create problems down the road?

As compared to the $1.19 billion general fund budget in FY 16-17, and the $1.27 billion budget last year, the general fund budget is up this year to $1.31 billion.

The stated reason: savings realized from pension reform, which the Mayor’s Office says contributes to $331 million of savings over two years.

“Without pension reform,” Curry said, “millions and millions of dollars would be diverted away from making our city better.”

A big part of the spend: capital improvements. FY 18-19 will see $161.4 million allocated to improvements, with big spends on Hart Bridge offramp removal ($12.5 million from the city matching the same sum from the state), a new fire station ($5 million), road resurfacing ($12 million), money for infrastructure at U.F. Health ($15 million, part of a $120 million commitment) and sidewalk projects (many of them delayed for years).

The Hart Bridge project is budgeted for the first phase, per Curry, who expressed confidence that — as he has demonstrated for the past three years — he “gets things done.”

“Without pension reform,” Curry reiterated in the media availability, “there would not be [this level of investment]” in capital projects.

Also, drainage rehab and septic tank phaseout continues, and over $60 million will be spent on the Emerald Necklace and McCoys Creek projects. And $10.8 million will be devoted, over three years, to remedy dilapidated African-American cemeteries ($2.5 million this year).

This was, said Curry, a “decade-long backlog” of needs.

The $161.4 million CIP — up more than double from Curry’s first $72 million CIP.


The London Daily Mail brings us an interesting story with the convergence of Curry’s favorite rapper and favorite donor.

Kismet is NOT in Jacksonville this week, apparently.

Per the paper, “Jay Z and Beyoncé splash the cash when it comes to their holidays — including on their current break in Italy, during which they have chartered the Kismet yacht, worth an eye-popping £180 million, for the height of luxury on the vacation.”

“The couple have been spotted on the jaunt around the Amalfi coast where they have been enjoying the spoils of the yacht, owned by US billionaire Shahid Khan, who is also the owner of NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars, and includes luxuries including a beauty salon and on-boat cinema,” the piece adds.

Khan’s yacht has often been docked outside the Jacksonville Landing, a vision of opulence adjacent to a crumbling mall.

JTA talks transit, Smart Cities

On the latest JAX Current, experts at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) discuss the future of regional transit and how Jacksonville is taking part of the Smart Cities Initiative.

Jacksonville is taking part in the Smart Cities Initiative.

The JAX Current is a monthly podcast hosted by leaders of the JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development arm of the JAX Chamber. Each month, the podcast highlights company executives, civic leaders and national location consultants to discuss ‘Why JAX’ and emerging economic trends and how Jacksonville’s role in the global marketplace.

The JAX Current is available on iTunes, SoundCloud and other outlets.

Jacksonville creates over 21K new jobs last year, third highest in state

Per news release: The Jacksonville area added 21,600 new private-sector jobs in the past year, creating the third-highest number of jobs among all Florida metro areas. Jacksonville’s unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in June, down 0.5 percentage point from one year ago.

Jacksonville is open for business.

The industries with the highest growth over the year in Jacksonville were trade, transportation, and utilities, and leisure and hospitality each with 4,500 new jobs, and professional and business services with 4,400 new jobs. Jacksonville once again rounded out the top five metro areas in job demand, with 18,248 openings, and had the fifth-highest number of openings for high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations with 4,829 online openings.

 As of June, Florida’s unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent, a drop of 7 points since December 2010; this drop is faster than the national decline of 5.3 percentage points. In the past year, 130,000 people entered Florida’s labor force, a growth of 1.3 percent, which is greater than the national labor force growth rate of 1.2 percent.

State signs off on Jacksonville trauma center

The Florida Department of Health issued a final order rejecting a challenge to a new trauma center at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, reports the News Service of Florida.

A judge clears the way for a new trauma unit at Jacksonville Memorial.

The rejection was based on recommendations by Administrative Law Judge Robert Cohen, who ruled against UF Health Jacksonville, which has long operated a trauma center. Last year, the Department of Health gave “provisional” approval for Memorial to open a trauma center. UF Health Jacksonville filed a challenge to the approval on a series of grounds, including whether a “slot” was available in the state trauma system to open another trauma facility in Northeast Florida.

In his recommendation, Cohen said: “Memorial met its burden of establishing that its trauma center application met the applicable standards” and rejected UF Health Jacksonville’s argument that the department wrongly gave approval to the Memorial trauma center without an available slot.

Crowley adds natural gas-powered ship to fleet

Crowley Maritime is adding the world’s first LNG-powered ship for container and roll-on/roll-off cargo. VT Halter Marine Inc. built the El Coqui specifically for Crowley, for use on the Jacksonville-Puerto Rico trade line.

Named after a Puerto Rican species of frog, El Coqui will make its first voyage to San Juan from Jaxport this month. According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, its sister ship Taino is being assembled at the VT shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to begin service later this year.

Crowley Maritime’s newest Liquid Natural Gas-powered ship, El Coqui.

At 720 feet long and weighing 26,500 deadweight tons, El Coqui can carry up to 2,400 container units at a cruising speed of 22 knots. The ship can hold a range of container sizes, up to 300 refrigerated containers and a mix of about 400 cars and larger vehicles.

“This delivery represents another milestone in our unwavering commitment to Puerto Rico and the Jones Act,” CEO Tom Crowley said in a statement. The Jones Act is a 1920 maritime law mandating that cargo shipped between U.S. ports must use U.S.-built, owned and manned ships.

Are you ready for some futbol?

In what is clearly an indication of stronger branding and a recognition of Jacksonville’s changing demographics, the Jaguars will have Spanish language broadcasts this year.

Long time coming: Jaguars offer Spanish broadcast, first since team’s beginning.

Tico Sports will air the games on WBOB 600 AM and 101.1 FM, the team’s Jacksonville flagship Spanish radio partner, and on 107.3 Solos Exitos in Orlando. The broadcasts will also be digitally streamed on a mobile application.

“We look forward to reaching a new and growing audience with a Spanish language airing of our games this season,” said Jaguars President Mark Lamping. “Our efforts to develop new fans and expand our fan base internationally are well-established, and this initiative is a new avenue for us to reach and develop new Jaguars fans in the Latino communities. We look forward to our partnership with Tico Sports and to bringing to our fans Jaguars game action in Spanish.”

The grind begins; Jags open training camp, but without Ramsey

When last seen, the Jacksonville Jaguars were trudging off the field at Gillette Stadium after coming up on the short end of a 24-20 thriller to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. On Wednesday, they made their first appearance of this season as training camp opened at TIAA Bank Field complex.

The cool temperatures of January were replaced this week with the heat and humidity of northeast Florida. To get to another title game, or beyond, the drudgery of July and August must come first.

Jalen Ramsey will not open training camp for the Jaguars.

“I think it’s a grind. We talk about coaching stamina, player stamina — how do we keep that focus for that long a time?” said Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone. “You’re talking about starting a day at 7 a.m., and by the time you’re ending the day, it’s 9 o’clock at night. You’re going through a lot of different things — football, in the weight room, out on the field, nutrition … all of that stuff is going on.”

The first day of training camp was uneventful, other than the absence of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. That absence will be excused because Ramsey remained in Tennessee for a few days after the birth of his daughter.

“Today starts a new chapter in my life, as Bre and I are blessed to welcome our baby into this world,” he tweeted. “With that said, I want to let everyone know that I’ll be in Tennessee with my family, and as soon as I’m comfortable knowing my family is healthy and happy, I’ll return to Jacksonville to rejoin my teammates on our quest to handle some unfinished business.”

There will still be plenty of the grind left when he returns.

ICE heats up primary fight between Al Lawson, Alvin Brown

The Democratic primary battle in Florida’s 5th Congressional District between U.S. Congressman Al Lawson and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is heating up.

And ICE is one reason why.

Last week, Lawson found himself voting with Republicans (and against many Democrats) on a key issue: the future of the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Lawson was just one of 18 Democrats voting in favor of ICE, which is under fire of late due to the internment of migrant children.

Suffice it to say Lawson had no regrets over his vote.

“You’ve got to have some kind of border security. You can’t just have open borders,” Lawson said. “They need to be reformed, but they do other things besides immigration. Protection [against] traffickers — drug traffickers, human traffickers, and everything else.”

“The Democrats — someone had a protest vote to say ‘present,’ but there’s no such vote as ‘present.’ They would refuse to vote to get rid of them. They voted present. I’m just not that kind of person.”

“You’ve got to reform them, but you can’t just get rid of them. That’s probably the worst decision that we made, saying that we’re going to get rid of ICE,” Lawson said.

“They were led by Maxine Waters, you know, in California. But really, it’s not the issue.”

Brown took the weekend to formulate a response to the incumbent’s ICE advocacy, but once he finally did it was full of fire.

“Last week [Lawson] was 1 of just 18 Democrats who voted to defend Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — the same controversial federal agency that carried out Donald Trump’s extreme policy of ripping children from their parents at the border. Lawson stood side-by-side with Trump and far-right Republicans in support of ICE and their inhumane arrests and detentions. This is unacceptable,” Brown posted to Facebook Monday.

Lawson’s campaign manager Philip Singleton offered response Monday afternoon, suggesting that Brown was out of his depth.

“The Congressman’s stance is clear: It’s disgusting that this administration would rip children from the arms of their parents at our borders. There is no human decency in President Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy but abolishing ICE is simply not the solution,” Singleton said.

“It’s become abundantly clear, however, that Alvin Brown doesn’t know that ICE is also responsible for narcotics enforcement, human trafficking, firearm smugglers, counter-terrorism and investigating cyber crimes,” Singleton added.

“I guess it would make sense for Alvin Brown, a former Mayor with a record of high crime and increased murder rates, to want more drugs and illegal guns to get into our community,” Singleton continued, before refreshing some talking points rooted in oppo pushed earlier this summer.

“In ‘Absent Alvin’ Brown’s world, when crime and drugs are a problem, you fire hundreds of police officers, then make shady backdoor bond deals – like Eureka Gardens. ‘Absent Alvin’ has a record of not supporting the people and abolishing programs that make our communities safer but, now, he wants us to believe he would keep our children, families and those seeking refuge in America safe?”

Brown’s campaign, when contacted for response, reserved comment on Lawson’s critique of his time in office.

“Al Lawson has proven yet again that he’s nothing more than a Republican in Democratic clothing as his campaign rhetoric matches his votes supporting Donald Trump’s agenda. While Lawson and his team keep applauding this Administration’s attacks on our values, Alvin Brown is committed to fighting for the people of North Florida. In Congress, Alvin will fight for lasting policy change that defends democracy, advances economic opportunity for all, and protects civil and human rights – not defend an agency that inhumanely arrests domestic violence survivors, puts kids in cages and treats refugees like terrorists. We must rebuild this country’s broken immigration system, beginning with dismantling ICE and replacing it with something that actually reflects our values.”

Lawson’s civil liberties bona fides have come under fire recently from the ACLU, which gave him a rating of 67 — the second-lowest rating for a Democrat in Florida.

When asked about the rating, Lawson said “I don’t know. I was rated one of the top 10 or 12 freshmen in Congress. I’ve always supported them.”

“They can’t come up with any issue I’ve been against them on. They haven’t gotten in touch with me at any time,” Lawson said.

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

Jacksonville Bold for 7.20.18 — Cash is king.

In this market, we periodically hear remarks about fundraising reports.

Often, people seek publicity for candidates who do not have the slightest interest in raising money. It’s hard for media to garner interest in a candidate who has no clue on how to target (or even reach) a constituency.

Others wonder why there are so many fundraising stories. Our answer is simple: The best way to know what drives a politician is by identifying who he or she strokes for checks.

At this point in the election cycle, cash is truly king.

The idea that covering a politician’s platform should be first or exclusive, while sounding nice, doesn’t jibe with the strong correlation between committed resources and victory.

This edition of BOLD (as well as the next few) will — by necessity — be about numbers. Whether left or right, there are ways to bring in money — donors, interests and causes.

Serious candidates find their way. The rest become footnotes.

GOP plays in CD 5 Dem primary

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

While Republicans play both sides, Democratic House leadership backs Al Lawson.

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

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

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

Lawson, meanwhile, saw a donation from Ballard Partners’ Susie Wiles, a longtime Lawson friend who chaired President Donald Trump’s campaign down the 2016 stretch.

Also see: Pelosi endorses Lawson.

Rutherford cruising to re-election

U.S. Congressman John Rutherford, if cash-on-hand is any indication, will cruise to re-election in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

Smooth sailing for The Sheriff.

The first-term Jacksonville Republican raised $106,447 in Q2, spending $46,730, and ended Q2 with $360,466 on hand.

Rutherford got checks from a variety of Jacksonville businessmen, such as former Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, as well as corporate citizens, including the GEO Group, Comcast, Publix and Universal Music Service.

The cash edge looks prohibitive: Democratic nominee Ges Selmont closed Q2 with $3,167 on hand, a number that simply won’t get it done.

Rutherford’s supportive Conservatives United political committee is not even raising money for this race, a strong indication that he doesn’t feel he’ll need it.

The former Jacksonville sheriff won the race to represent the coastal Northeast Florida district by 40 points in the 2016 general election.

Yoho stands tall against Sapp

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, representing Florida’s 3rd Congressional District that runs from Orange Park to Gainesville and Ocala, has amassed a strong cash on hand lead against primary challenger Judson Sapp.

Ted Yoho (Image via

Yoho, a Republican seeking his fourth term, has $431,093 on hand, compared to $133,012 for Sapp.

In Q2, which ended at the end of June, Yoho raised $142,823, spending $67,282 in the same period. Almost $72,000 of the Yoho haul was from individual contributions.

Sapp actually took in more campaign money than Yoho in Q2, bringing in $172,525 in his second quarter in the race, spending $63,428.

Of that money, $165,000 (of a total $190,000) was self-financed. The most interesting external donor was the surprisingly still active Friends of Cliff Stearns, the political committee of the former congressman defeated in 2012 by Yoho in a primary.

Stearns’ political committee has been kept live, even though his political career has not.

The winner of this primary will face a lightly-funded Democrat in the general.

Congressmen pan the Prez

It’s a measure of how dubious President Donald Trump‘s performance was at the Helsinki summit that even Republicans who proudly campaigned with the president in 2016 are distancing themselves from his remarks.

Is the ball bugged? (Image via ABC News)

Congressman Ted Yoho, who faces a primary challenge from Judson Sapp in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, bemoaned a “missed opportunity” by the president.

“Today’s news conference between President Trump and Vladimir Putin was a missed opportunity to hold Russia accountable for their meddling into our 2016 presidential election … Putin has never been, nor will he be, a friend to the United States. It must be made clear to his regime that we will not tolerate any hostile action against the United States,” Yoho added.

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford bemoaned a “missed opportunity for the president to place additional pressure on Vladimir Putin for his regime’s misdeeds. Even with the president’s misgivings with those who seek to undermine him at home, we cannot equate ourselves with the Putin regime, its record of hostility, and its assaults on democratic values across the globe.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson spoke up too, saying the meeting was “utterly disgraceful.”

Duval DeSantis

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

Front-runner? We’ll see what his crowd looks like Saturday morning. (Image via Getty)

The event kicks off at 8:30 at the Omni downtown. If you miss him there, catch him at Orange Park’s La Nopalera in the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

Graham finally runs TV in Jacksonville

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham finally bought TV time in Jacksonville this week.

Per a media release from her campaign: “The new ad, ‘Lessons,’ introduces Graham as a mother, former PTA president, congresswoman, and daughter of popular former Governor and Senator Bob Graham. Like her previous ads [not seen in the 904], the new spot contrasts 20 years of Republican rule with Graham’s progressive priorities of restoring public schools and expanding health care.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


“Everything I do is through the prism of being a mom,” Graham says in the ad. “The Florida Legislature have not taken Medicaid expansion. They have hurt education. They have used the lottery to reduce funding — but we’re gonna take it back.”

The media release notes that despite having spent just $3.8 million this campaign, “far less than her self-funding opponents” Jeff Greene and Philip Levine, Graham is still in the mix in polls.

The results of a recent survey conducted by St. Pete Polls and commissioned by Florida Politics shows Graham ahead of Levine and trailing Greene by just a tenth of a percentage point.

Bean sprouts above field

As is typical this time of year, a recap of state race fundraising.

In Senate District 4, incumbent Republican Aaron Bean continues to dominate the competition with almost $180,000 on hand. He’s destroying primary challenger Carlos Slay, who has $88 on hand. The winner of Bean/Slay will take on Democrat Billee Bussard, who raised $3,405 and now has $7,167 on hand, and Libertarian Joanna Tavares, who has $38 on hand …

Team Bean wants another win. The money says it’s gonna happen.

The most competitive race for state House in the region is HD 15, where Democrat Tracye Polson, with $127,000 on hand, still holds a narrowing cash lead against the Republican field. GOP lobbyist Wyman Duggan has $122,947, well ahead of Mark Zeigler ($32,482 on hand) and Joseph Hogan ($12,537). Duggan has a hold card, however, with Mayor Lenny Curry cutting an ad on his behalf this week.

In HD 11, HD 12 and HD 16, Republican Reps. Cord Byrd, Clay Yarborough and Jason Fischer look safe. Byrd has over a 10-1 advantage over opponents in cash on hand. Yarborough: a 20-1 edge over a Democrat. Fischer: an 8-1 advantage.

Meanwhile, in HD 14’s money race, incumbent state Rep. Kim Daniels is way ahead of Duval County School Board chair Paula Wright.

Daniels, a first-term lawmaker from Jacksonville, answered the challenge with her best fundraising of the cycle in the two weeks between June 22 and July 6: $26,412, bringing her up to $47,227 raised with almost $28,000 of that on hand.

Republican money and interests, including private prisons, showed up for the Demonbuster.

Wright is far behind in fundraising after a very disappointing two-week period. She raised just $3,501.

What Bean is up to

On Saturday, The Fernandina Beach Republican will attend the River Road Baptist Church’s Clothing Giveaway 2018 and help distribute food and clothes to those in need (the free event is open to the public), 9 a.m., River Road Baptist Church, 21067 County Road 121, Hilliard.

On Monday, July 23, Bean will discuss tourism and related legislation at the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council workshop, noon, Omni Racquet Park Conference Center, Fernandina Beach. Later, he will speak to the first Coast Republican club, providing an update on the 2018 Legislative Session, 6:30 p.m., Casa Marina, Jacksonville Beach.

On Thursday, July 26, Bean will receive the Guardian ad Litem’s (GAL) Legislator of the Year Award, 1 p.m., Edward Ball Building, Jacksonville.

Boffo receipts for GOP senators

Political committees for powerful Northeast Florida Senate Republicans Travis Hutson and Rob Bradley stayed active as July heated up.

Rob Bradley, Travis Hutson committees are worth watching down the stretch.

Both of Hutson’s committees, First Coast Business Foundation and Sunshine State Conservatives, were active in the days leading up to July 6, the final day for which reports are available.

First Coast Business Foundation moved $35,000 to Sun Coast Patriots, a committee that has gotten over $65,000 from Hutson committees since April.

Sunshine State Conservatives, meanwhile, brought in $51,000: $1,000 from Tesla, Elon Musk‘s car company, and $50,000 from Floridians United for Our Children.

Between the two committees, Hutson has roughly $430,000 in cash on hand.

Bradley’s Working for Florida’s Families committee, between June 30 and July 6, saw $30,000 in contributions with over $25,000 of that flowing out.

Voice of Florida Business ponied up $20,000; Floridians for Strong Leadership, the committee of Sen. Anitere Flores, the other $10,000.

The committee gave $15,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee, and dropped six $1,000 checks in the following campaigns: Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland; Clearwater Rep. Ed Hooper‘s bid for the state Senate; South Florida Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr.‘s re-election bid; Pinellas Sen. Jeff Brandes‘ re-election effort; Gainesville Sen. Keith Perry‘s competitive bid for another term; and Marili Cancio‘s challenge to Kendall’s Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo.

Ray stays paid

As of July 6, former State Rep. Lake Ray continues to lead his three opponents in fundraising for the Duval County Tax Collector election to be held this August.

The election, which will see the top two candidates move to the November ballot if no one gets a majority of votes, was necessitated by former tax collector Michael Corrigan moving on to a role with Visit Jacksonville.

From Tea Party to Tax Collector? Long strange trip for Lake Ray.

Ray has raised and self-financed $136,935, with over $125,000 of that still on hand.

Ray’s closest competitor is also a Republican, former property appraiser and city councilman Jim Overton, who has raised $92,620 total, with just over $70,000 on hand.

Current Jacksonville City Councilman Doyle Carter, running third, has $63,000 on hand and Shad Khan’s blessing. And former Rep. Mia Jones is in fourth. Still in fourth place, the sole Democrat in the race: former State Rep. Mia Jones.

Jones raised $6,925, and has nearly $19,000 on hand.

CSX posts outstanding Q2           

CSX Corp. is celebrating after reporting a strong second quarter of 2018, with nearly every metric showing improvement.

As reported by the Jacksonville Business Journal, net earnings saw a significant rise and efficiency improved while “trains dwelled less, moved faster, carried higher volumes and arrived on time more often than the previous quarter.”

CSX is popping champagne corks with Q2 earnings report.

“Two words I think sum up everything: great performance,” said CEO Jim Foote in an earnings call this week.

Compared to the second quarter of 2017, net earnings increased by more than $360 million — 72 percent — with almost 6 percent more revenue, $3.1 billion. At the same time, CSX spent 8 percent less, $1.8 billion, on expenses from the same period last year. Earnings per share came in at $1.01, a 46-cent improvement.

JTA seeks drivers for new downtown-to-beach route

Jacksonville Transportation Authority is hiring, looking for 30 bus operators for a new 18.5-mile First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit route, running between downtown and the beaches. Service begins in November.

“We are excited to continue to grow our team of skilled operators,” JTA VP of Transit Operations Lisa Darnall said in a statement to the Jacksonville Business Journal. “With the ongoing expansion of our routes, our goal is to onboard 30 additional operators by November of this year.”

JTA needs drivers for a new route to Jacksonville beaches to begin in November. (Image via JTA)

Driver pay starts at $12.50 an hour during the first seven weeks of training, rising to $14 an hour. Drivers will be eligible for health benefits, a pension plan, paid vacation and additional incentive pay. Interested candidates must be 21-years-old or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent diploma, a Florida CDL license class A or B and no more than three traffic violations in the last five years.

Vestcor Bridges Run for Charity

The Vestcor Family Foundation holds its 23rd Annual Charity Run on Saturday — the 5K begins 7 p.m. Last year, the Vestcor Bridges Run attracted 1,000 runners and spectators and raised a total of $35,000 for local nonprofit organizations. After the race this year, runners can enjoy free food and beer, live music, raffle prizes and finisher medals.

Registration will be open on race day and can found online here.

Grab your running shoes.

Race participants will start and finish on Water Street in front of the Prime Osborn Center by the new Lofts at LaVilla. Lofts at LaVilla is Vestcor’s third community in downtown Jacksonville with two other communities coming through fall 2019. Runners will pass by The Carling and 11 East and continue over the Acosta and Main Street bridges before reaching the finish line. Registration will be open on race day and can be found online here.

The run is part of the Vestcor’s continued support of Jacksonville’s downtown and its recent growth. Funds raised will benefit local educational and children-focused nonprofit organizations. Previous charities benefitted from the run include American Heart Association, Give Kids a Chance, Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Tiger Academy and UF Health Jacksonville.

Tony Romo picks Jags, Packers in Super Bowl

Last Sunday, Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles was on the golf course with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. If former Cowboys’ quarterback and current Fox NFL commentator Tony Romo is correct, they will be together competing again for a championship.

CBS commentator Tony Romo predicts another championship matchup between the Jags, Packers.

They were participating in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, an event won by Romo. Earlier in the week, Romo was asked for his prediction on who will be playing in the Super Bowl in February.

“Thing about the NFL is things change pretty fast. Injuries happen, a lot of stuff happens, but, um … if I was picking right now, I’d probably go with Green Bay versus Jacksonville,” Romo told “That would be a tentative, rough guess here in the summer months.”

When he learned of Romo’s prognostication, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s response was a simple “We will see, Tony, we will see.”

The Jaguars will see soon enough if they are a contender. The Patriots will be in town for the Jaguars’ home opener on Sept. 16.

How did Rodgers and Bortles do in the golf course? Bortles hopes that if the two meet in the Super Bowl, he will have a better showing throwing a football than hitting a golf ball.

Rodgers finished in a tie for 18th, while Bortles limped in with a 76th place finish, just ahead of Larry the Cable Guy. Despite finishing near the bottom, Bortles did achieve his primary goal.

“I usually just set one every year,” he said. “I’ll beat Charles Barkley.”

Mission accomplished. Barkley, the former NBA star, finished last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Pelosi endorses Al Lawson’s re-election — in Alvin Brown’s hometown

Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

His Q2 fundraising was $165,000, a modest number compared to many Democratic campaigns, and a seeming letdown, given Brown’s active courtship of Jacksonville money.

Brown, running for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, only had to walk a few blocks from his own campaign headquarters to see House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorse incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.

Lawson, who vowed to retire the former mayor just days after Brown got in the race, seemingly intended with the staging of this endorsement (and a subsequent fundraiser) to send a message to Brown.

However, in contrast to the fiery rhetoric the incumbent put forth when Brown got in the race, the event and press avail had little of that Friday.

It didn’t need it.

The remarks from both, delivered in a crowded, hot room in Lawson’s Northside campaign headquarters, were words of mutual admiration.

The only acknowledgment of a competitive primary came from Pelosi: “I want [Lawson] to win his race. I know it’s Blue [against] Blue.”

Remarks in the media availability, exclusive to Florida Politics, were no more confrontational.

Lawson said he brought Pelosi to Jacksonville not to clown Brown, but to “let people know we’ve been up there working hard for them.”

“We’ve been able to get a great deal accomplished, and we wouldn’t be able to accomplish that without a great relationship with the Leader,” Lawson said. “For her to come here, it’s truly an honor.”

“I don’t know if it sends a message [to Alvin Brown] or not. I’ve had the establishment up there for the last 16 months working with me,” Lawson said.

“It’s a spirited race, the competition is good. We just hope to be successful and to continue to work hard,” Lawson said.

Pelosi would not criticize Brown, saying she’s “here to support Mr. Lawson,” citing “courageous votes” and “his leadership” on tough bills.

“I’m proud to be associated with him, as are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Agriculture Committee, which is one of his primary committees in Congress,” Pelosi said. “Those who work with him support him.”

Pelosi added that as this is a “blue district,” the endorsement won’t come with money from the party. However, “the hope is that the overwhelming enthusiasm we have for his candidacy will attract support.”

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.

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