Alvin Brown Archives - Page 5 of 42 - Florida Politics

Sam Mousa drops another amusing Alvin Brown administration anecdote

In an email, Jacksonville’s CAOSam Mousa, told one of those A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Next Level stories about the Alvin Brown administration.

This one affects the Bob Hayes Track Meet.

“It came to our attention via the Council Auditor this week that the Brown administration did not have a contract executed before the funds for the 2015 Bob Hayes track meet were distributed.  The Brown administration simply issued a check request attached to the appropriating ordinance and paid the money, notwithstanding the ordinance stating a contract was required to be executed (the contract was attached to the ordinance),” Mousa wrote.

The funds, apparently, were “not spent in accordance with the budget which was presented to the City.  The expenses did not over-run the total amount provided by the City, but the funds were not spent per the approved categorical elements as presented in the budget. Accordingly, the Auditor is now holding up the city contribution for the 2016 event until the prior expenditure of funds is ratified by the City Council. This will require a ratification ordinance approved by City Council.”

To borrow a phrase from Britney Spears: Oops, they did it again. Between this and the fun story about Ronnie Belton‘s pension benefits, it’s been an interesting weekend of tidbits and trivia.

Happily for Bob Hayes fans, “Staff is working feverishly to help have an ordinance drafted and ratified thru City Council on an emergency basis…. this is a very important event and we will do what we need thru appropriate actions to help get the 2016 event funds released as soon as possible.”

Never a dull moment!

Audrey Moran on Lenny Curry: “I made it clear to him I was disappointed” on HRO

JAX Chamber Chairwoman Audrey Moran has made it clear she’s comfortable with diverging from City Hall on the issue of the the city’s human rights ordinance.

Moran, herself a former mayoral candidate, says “she really doesn’t understand the motives” behind recent moves to table two competing pieces of legislation looking at covering Jacksonville’s LGBT residents from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations.

The Chamber’s full-bore endorsement of the HRO is at odds with Mayor Lenny Curry‘s stance. Curry has said he doesn’t think it prudent to expand protections.

In early 2015, Curry won the Chamber’s endorsement in his bid to unseat former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. Then in August at a private meeting of local business and civic leaders that included Moran, it was agreed that Curry should be given “breathing room” on the HRO.

What does Moran think about that now?

“At that time, the mayor had indicated he wanted to lead, he wanted to have town hall meetings, as he promised during his campaign and we needed to give him an opportunity to do that. He did follow through on his commitment on the town hall meetings – a painful process is how I would describe that. And he has made a decision that handling city employees via policy is the route he wants to go right now. That’s his decision. The Chamber disagrees. We feel an ordinance is very, very important. But that’s certainly his right,” she told WJCT.

“He was kind enough to call me with that decision. And I was clear to him as Chamber chair that I was disappointed. And I also told the mayor that the Chamber would continue to advocate all across our community, and especially with the City Council for a comprehensive ordinance, and he said he understood that completely.”

“I’m sorry we’re on different paths on the human rights ordinance, but I believe the mayor understands why the business community feels so strongly about it.”

Moran, a senior vice president at Baptist Health, went on to cite the JAX Chamber’s long history of pushing for social justice in North Florida, noting that in the late 1970s the Chamber led the effort to integrate the River Club. In the 1980s, the Chamber pushed to start the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, a continuing tradition.

In 1992, when then-Chief Judge John Santora came under fire for making racist comments, Moran noted that the the JAX Chamber issued a declaration of community values stating that “prejudice has no place in our community.” (Although, as The New York Times and others pointed out at the time, the Chamber’s bold stance may have been prompted at least in part by pressure from activists about the city’s efforts to lure an NFL franchise to town.)

“At that point in time we weren’t talking about sexual orientation, but those words are as true today as they were 24 years ago. We have to be about equality for everyone. This is about human beings. We have to have protection from discrimination. We need to be able to say that if you come to Jacksonville, your rights are protected, and that we have an inclusive community.”

The Chamber’s ultimate argument is the business case for the HRO. So far, it’s not one that seems to be resonating with the mayor’s office, but Moran and her membership will keep making it.

“I’m concerned that the city will lose business if the ordinance is not passed, because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Debit-gate revisited: WJXT hits Alvin Brown over inventory control

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is gone from City Hall, but not forgotten, if WJXT’s latest slab of anti-Brown red meat is worth noting.

The issue this time: inventory control. $4.3 million of city property was lost from 2010 to July 1, 2015. And a big part of the reason? A lack of a meaningful inventory control system, the type you might see at any normal business.

“Each city department is required to do one inventory once a year. The city property officers are responsible for overseeing this process, as well as filing police reports. Any item valued over $1,000 is supposed to be physically tagged with a sticker and assigned an index code,” the report says.

Easy peasy, except when protocol is not followed.

Each city department is required to do one inventory once a year. The city property officers are responsible for overseeing this process, as well as filing police reports. Any item valued over $1,000 is supposed to be physically tagged with a sticker and assigned an index code

”There should be a sticker on there, and there’s not, I don’t see one,” said Crescimbeni, while searching for a city sticker on his own computer

Crescimbeni said tickets that help to keep track of city property are not being used or sometimes they rub off the equipment and aren’t replaced.

Crescimbeni historically has not been a fan of the Brown administration, but he doesn’t levy the specific charges in this piece.

Instead, that role is left to Lenny Curry spox Marsha Oliver.

“Based upon our review, it’s apparent that the previous administration did not at all, conduct any of the inventory management practices. They did not follow municipal code 122, when you look at it, you have missing assets that show up in an annual report,” spokeswoman Marsha Oliver said to WJXT.

That code requires yearly inventory checks, and such checks if a departmental head moves on.

David Hunt, who has the unenviable role of handling such questions from the media, pushed back.

“Mayor Brown left office more than eight months ago,” Hunt wrote, “and it’s disappointing that anyone would continue to cast blame on him for ongoing city issues when the truth is the Brown administration worked hard to enhance accountability throughout city government. It should also be noted that a great number of items listed relate to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office, Jacksonville Public Library and courts, independent branches of government which a mayor does not oversee.”

This is not the first inventory issue related to the Brown administration. Recall the case of the missing prepaid debit cards from an employee incentive program, the loss of which was registered last year.

The Inspector General is still on that case. Looks like he has another one in what appears to be a series of them.

After bad press and board flux, JEA on path to stability again

One of the more surprisingly compelling political stories in Jacksonville in the second half of 2015: the chaos at the local utility, JEA.

You saw the mayor, Lenny Curry, sending emails to top staff members asking “what the hell is going on” with the board of directors.

You saw board members blasting media for covering its issues difficulties.

There was a series of tense meetings regarding getting certain appointees from the previous administration off the board.

And then there was the JEA liaison from Council wondering, during an October meeting regarding the JEA Agreement, whether the utility and the city were at “cross purposes and cross goals.”

All of that seems to be in the rear view mirror now. Their relations seem to have started improving about the time Mike Hightower became top lobbyist for JEA.

All indications are that a JEA agreement will be reached soon between the city and the utility,  perhaps by next Tuesday at the JEA agreement meeting.

That’s not an accident. Hard work went into the negotiation of that agreement, in shade meetings and otherwise, with smart, tough negotiators for both the city and the utility.

A conclusion reached: All parties are on the same side.

Part of that lies in the difference between the Alvin Brown and Lenny Curry administrations,  informed parties contend.

A worry was that the former mayor desired to use JEA to help with the city’s unfunded liability issues related to public pensions.

That worry was abated by the Curry before the bond rating trip to New York in December, a relief to those agencies, which like everyone else saw the headlines.

Although it will still be a month or two before the final result is known, hopes and expectations are that JEA will maintain its credit rating as it continues to work toward reducing its debt burden, and attempts to avoid new debt.

The new board, also, has that establishment imprimatur. Chairman Tom Petway and Vice Chairman Ed Burr have a strong working relationship with City Hall.

One point of contention remains as far as the JEA Agreement goes: the responsibility for collective bargaining, which has become an issue in the wake of the General Counsel ruling that City Council, as the “appropriative body,” has the responsibility for salary negotiations.

That’s something that would be yet another burden on City Council, and there are some on the JEA Agreement committee who would prefer the ability to delegate that burden.

There are actually arguments in favor of that; one being that there is a gap, in terms of experience and aptitude, on City Council.

Jacksonville faces a lot of issues: a wave of killings, a push toward a pension tax referendum, and the HRO battle. But JEA, compared with a few months ago, is on better footing.

Tommy Hazouri contemplates leadership, legacy, and the HRO

In the 2015 May election, Tommy Hazouri was the leading citywide vote getter. The former mayor was buoyed by an interesting coalition: voters who remembered his tenure as mayor with fondness, along with young people energized by his proactive stance on Human Rights Ordinance expansion.

His appeal crossed party lines; his messaging hit the same public safety themes as did the mayoral campaign of Lenny Curry.

Hazouri, now entering his eighth month in office, has been a singular presence on Council. Despite appropriations experience as Jacksonville Mayor, in the Legislature, and on the School Board, Hazouri was left off of the Finance Committee (which he didn’t appreciate at the time). He did get assigned to Rules, where he has had occasional clashes with Chair Matt Schellenberg.

He also, alone among Council Democrats, has pushed hard for HRO expansion. Though many Democrats said yes on the campaign trail to HRO expansion, now that legislation is in the hopper they’ve moved to call me maybe … even as the Committee of the Whole convenes on Thursday.

Not Hazouri. His feelings on HRO expansion, one can surmise, have colored many of his actions on Council. They include his decision to back Aaron Bowman, another rookie, for Council vice president, instead of Schellenberg, Doyle Carter, or John Crescimbeni.

Hazouri met with Schellenberg, and told the Republican that he was “arrogant” and generally abused power when Schellenberg asked to be his second choice. On Wednesday, he met with the other two candidates, each of whom wanted that consideration.

The meeting with Doyle Carter, a Westside Republican opposed to Hazouri on the HRO, was notable mostly for the exchanges the two veteran politicians had.

Talking about legislation Carter had championed, Hazouri had this zinger about Carter initiatives regarding controlling the feral cat population and about hens in residential backyards: “chickens and feral cats: You come up with some good stuff.”

Then there was this exchange from years ago, when Mayor John Delaney and Council leadership was on a Chamber trip to Denver, leaving Carter as acting mayor for a couple of days.

Carter: “I was mayor one time.”

Hazouri: “Was everybody else dead?”

From there, Carter talked about how he called Sam Mousa, Delaney’s chief lieutenant, and said  he “wanted everyone in public works on the Westside” for paving projects and the like.

If Mousa didn’t complete the job, Carter said, Mousa would be “fired for a night.”

The joke was on Carter eventually, though. With a hurricane nearby, Mousa mentioned that Carter would have to evacuate the beaches. Carter’s solution?

“Better get Delaney on the plane and get him back,” Carter said.

The meeting between Hazouri and Crescimbeni, two old school Jacksonville Democrats who were in office before Hazouri’s Council aide even had a bassinet, was tinged with the tension of people who knew each other perhaps a little too well.

It got interesting early on when Hazouri told Crescimbeni, regarding his signing on with Bowman before even meeting with Crescimbeni, that “I thought everyone piled on with you,” a reference to many of the Council leadership signing letters of support for his VP bid. That, he said later, created the “perception” that people “queued up for leadership.”

During their conversation, Crescimbeni said that “the best thing that [Council veterans] can do is not chair committees,” instead grooming the new class.

Hazouri peppered Crescimbeni with questions that got interesting answers.

When asked what his conception of the role of the presidency is, Crescimbeni said that part of it was to ensure that Council’s image not “get dashed in the media by dumb things,” and that as Council president, he would work with the media (such as, presumably, The Florida Times-Union and the Financial News and Daily Record) to craft a “better image in media.”

Another role is to “steer the council,” something that he noticed Bill Gulliford do under a “different mayor,” made necessary by there being a “lot of folks with no local government experience.”

Addressing Alvin Brown, who hadn’t held elected office prior to being mayor, Crescimbeni observed, “If you don’t have that understanding … you have to be smart enough” to hire people that do.

There is a do-or-die feel to the Crescimbeni push. In his 16th year on Council, he has never been Council president.

He came close in 1998, but he got pushed out in favor of Don Davis by a 12-7 vote.

Though we’re in a new century, it was clear that the decision stung.

“I would never not support the VP” in running for president, Crescimbeni said, except in the case of an “egregious crime.”

He did mention an example of such an egregious crime. It was, indeed, egregious.

Crescimbeni also cast shade on Bowman, saying, “I can’t imagine myself running for leadership six months into my first term.”

Hazouri, after meeting with all three potential second-choice candidates, wouldn’t commit to any of them. For one thing, there are policy outcomes he seeks to effect.

For one thing, Hazouri seeks a sunset of the TRUE Commission, an independent fiscal watchdog body first enacted by Council ordinance in 1994.

“I never understood the need for it,” Hazouri said in his office, given that Council has an auditor.

Hazouri is concerned about overreach beyond Finance, one seemingly permitted by statute saying that, in addition to financial oversight, TRUE may examine “other areas” as the “commission deems appropriate and within the scope of the commission’s duties.”

One such area TRUE examined: the Human Rights Ordinance expansion. TRUE was not in favor of such, as they wanted information that can’t be readily quantified, like businesses that decided not to come to Jacksonville because of a lack of an expanded HRO.

Another battle Hazouri fights is with the Ethics Office and director Carla Miller, which strikes him as ironic given his stint on the Florida Commission on Ethics.

In Rules on Tuesday, Hazouri made a joke that Ethics was perhaps a bit overzealous in some respects, which led to an immediate email from Ethics Director Miller regarding her concerns.

Miller, whose ethics department has been high profile of late for stories ranging from largess from the Jaguars to use of cellphones at Council meetings, isn’t always on the same page with Hazouri.

“I was using an example,” Hazouri said of Miller. “Holding up a sign, saying ‘gotcha.’”

Hazouri thinks that “we know what the law is” and that many on Council agree with his skepticism over certain aspects of Miller’s enforcement, saying that “a lot of people won’t speak out” and that there is concern over “unintended consequences.”

These matters are key to Hazouri. But also material: the HRO.

“If you’re for it you should take leadership,” he said.

Hazouri is going to be the leading point man on Thursday at the Committee of the Whole, making the case that the bill is “not about religion” or the denial of religious freedoms, but it is about “jobs, housing, public accommodations” and the “LGBT community is left out.”

One wonders whether everyone will be on board with Hazouri’s position, especially in light of Curry extending employment protections to employees of the city and its contractors, in what has been described as a non-coercive, incrementalist move by some, and by others as the first regressive move by a mayor in recent memory.

Curry’s play may peel off a few votes that might have been in favor of the Hazouri bill. And Hazouri is going to push it through, even as there is reason to believe that there is skepticism.

Time will tell. But Hazouri has vowed to keep pushing until it is law.

Jacksonville drops out of “100 Resilient Cities” initiative

The city of Jacksonville is no longer taking part in the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” Initiative. The program awards cities around the world $1 million grants to address issues such as sea level rise and extreme weather.

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown applied for the grant and received it, but under the Lenny Curry administration, it looks like Jax is no longer quite so resilient.

City spokeswoman Tia Ford told WJCT Wednesday the city is no longer participating in the program. Charles Moreland, the mayor’s director of Community Affairs, was named Jacksonville’s Chief Resiliency Officer under the initiative. It is unclear whether that will remain his portfolio, since part of the $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation went to the creation of that position.

It is also unclear as to whether the city of Jacksonville is returning any or all of the money.

As of Wednesday morning, all mention of Jacksonville’s participation in 100 Resilient Cities was  scrubbed from the Rockefeller Foundation’s website.

Jacksonville’s response to the concern presented by sea level rise contrasts with that of other coastal Florida cities. For example, as this website has already reported, in Miami, Mayor Carlos Gimenez and county commissioners recently approved a $6.8 million budget that includes a $75,000 line item to hire a new “resiliency officer” with an additional $300,000 budget to tackle the effects of sea level rise.

Climate scientists with NASA, NOAA and Climate Central, among others, have all cited Florida as the state most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

Bill Bishop mulling return to Jax City Council

Former Jacksonville City Councilman and mayoral candidate Bill Bishop is considering a return to Jacksonville’s City Council in 2019, he told Florida Politics Monday.

Bishop, who served two terms, is thinking over a run to fill what would be the open At Large seat of John Crescimbeni (assuming that Council’s proposal to extend its consecutive terms served from 2 to 3 passes referendum and applies to current Council members in its final iteration.)

Bishop, who ran a strong third in the March mayoral First Election, crossed party lines and endorsed Alvin Brown toward the end of the runoff, campaigning with Brown in high-visibility visits to the Riverside area, where Bishop won some precincts.

This happened after Bishop reportedly told Curry that Brown’s re-election would lead to a “lost decade” in Jacksonville. And after Bishop supporters jumped the gun by announcing that they backed Alvin Brown, in an email that seemed designed to convey Bishop’s endorsement to Brown that they had to clarify soon after sending.

The ill will between the Bishop and Curry camps continued through the election, with Bishop (who had previously done a press conference saying that he was running for mayor in 2019), taking fire from the GOP establishment throughout the election.

Since Curry’s election, Bishop has had business in front of City Council, and the dynamic has been friendly with his former colleagues, suggesting that regarding the campaign, there may be momentum in City Hall to let bygones be bygones.

However, that momentum may not extend to the GOP establishment. Local Party Treasurer Lindsey Brock, a member of the Jax Chamber Public Policy Board, is already looking at the race, insiders say. Bishop would, therefore, meet resistance from the Republican Executive Committee, with which he already has a fractious relationship.

Worth watching: Bishop’s thoughts on Lenny Curry’s move on the expansion of the HRO. Curry, who said further legislation would not be prudent, extended all-inclusive employment non-discrimination provisions to employees of the city and employees of vendors doing business with the city, which would include local powerhouse companies like J.B. Coxwell and W.W. Gay.

Bill Bishop may not be the only Bishop on the ballot in 2019. Democrat operatives are bracing for a potential challenge to Joyce Morgan in Arlington from Melody Bishop, Bill’s wife. Word on the street is that GOP money would back Mrs. Bishop. We have reached out to Melody Bishop for comment on this narrative.

How Shad Khan is moving Jacksonville forward in spite of itself

The most interesting part of the State of the Franchise event for the Jacksonville Jaguars, for this writer, came at the end.

In a press gaggle, where the same sports reporters went through the same tired questions about London and relocation, this reporter was finally able to push forward and get a question in.

There have been moshpits with more clearance.

The big question I had for Shad Khan: How did he work the switch between supporting Alvin Brown for reelection and Lenny Curry for Mayor?

And where did he stand on expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance to LGBT people.

His answer was straightforward.

“I’ve got an investment here,” Khan said, adding that while he supported Brown in the mayoral race, he has to “respect” the will of the people.

“Lenny’s a great guy,” Khan said, and “he represents the city well.”

Fielding a question on the HRO, which would be a foregone conclusion in London, or any of the other places Khan does business, Khan cut through the handwringing and the blather as a man with a few billion dollars in the bank will do.

“It’s like civil rights,” Khan said. “It’s so late that it’s not even worth talking about.”

Khan said he’d talked to Brown about it. Presumably, given the political symbiosis between Khan’s organization and the Curry administration, similar conversations have been had … if not from Khan, then at least from his lieutenants.

The politicians were all smiles on Friday. Lenny Curry posed for another fist bump picture with Khan, which looked more organic than the one on the London trip. Khan said that “we plan to be in Jacksonville” and “we want to flourish,” with “certainty and stability” the goal.

But the business of The State of the Franchise was, of course, business.

According to Jaguars President Mark Lamping, business is picking up.

Despite being a small market, local revenue is “going in the right direction” though there is a “long way to go.”

Local revenue is “critical,” Lamping said, offering financial “flexibility” that helps with contract options.

Downtown development, Lamping added, is a “major part of the strategy,” a revenue stream along with the proposed entertainment district and the stadium revamps that were, as you would expect, presented to look genuinely transformative and state of the art.

Local revenue was up 8 percent year over year, down from 24 percent the previous period; however, with local revenue now 26th in the league, “we’ve turned the corner.” This is helped with fan-base penetration that is 11th in the league.

Renovations will help with that revenue stream; Lamping said that in cities where renovations happen, the average ticket price goes up 50 percent.

The reduction in club seats was addressed.

“The thing that made Jacksonville an NFL city was the sale of club seats,” Lamping said. The “demand the first five years was a little bit artificial.”

To that end, club seats renovations, with more space to walk around and open space in the club section, is both “necessary” and the “best plan.” Customized colored lighting for things like the Georgia/Florida game is a unique value add also, and the team will chip in half the money on the removal and adding of temporary seating for that.

The “amphitheater,” Lamping said, is a “misnomer,” as it’s an “open-air covered theater” with seating capabilities akin to Radio City Music Hall.

London is also part of that plan: The revenue potential per game is 180 percent of that of a Jaguars game.

The Jags intend to “protect their position” for “franchise stability.”

City Council bet $45 million of the city’s money on the Jaguars. The mayor’s office pushed hard.

But clearly, part of the deal for Shad Khan is to make Jacksonville a truly global city.

Politicians running for reelection would be wise to double back on his comments on the HRO.

The state of the Jacksonville Jaguars … a year ago

A bit less than a year ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars held 2015’s State of the Franchise; what a difference a year makes between then and the edition Friday morning at 11.

“The State of the Franchise address is invariably a political affair,” I wrote last February, “and this year was no exception. A clue to the hierarchy could be gleaned from the VIP seating. In the first row, Mayor Brown and Jags Coach Gus Bradley sat next to each other, joking like old friends before the event. The second row had members of the Petway family — strong Lenny Curry supporters who were instrumental in both the genesis of the franchise two decades ago and in a sponsorship deal announced today. And the third row had Mayoral candidate Bill Bishop and some other City Councilmen.”

Spoiler alert: Alvin and Gus will not resume their chit chat. Expect Mayor Curry to be in the catbird seat. And Council President Greg Anderson.

In 2015, Shad Khan acknowledged the Mayor and City Council President Clay Yarborough — perhaps a strategic move with the last one, as Khan is going to need Council support sooner than later during this process. “It felt good watching the video and [Jaguars] football again,” Khan said.

“I want to make it clear that it’s my responsibility … to deliver better results on game day,” Khan said in 2015, adding a refrain familiar to long-suffering Jags fans and Jacksonville residents alike: “we’re on the verge of turning the corner.”

Well, the names will change in 2016. But bet on this: you’ll hear that theme recur.

The big sell: the Shipyards proposal. $17.5 million of Capital Improvement Funds were budgeted to environmental remediation to that end in August.

And then there was the Mutual Admiration Society between the mayor and the Jags owner:

After the event, Mayor Brown and Khan spoke to assembled media. Brown described the plan as having “great vision”, one that makes “Downtown a top priority”; a “visionary, iconic plan”.

“Shad’s always been interested in the Shipyards,” the Mayor continued, describing Khan as a “visionary leader that understands business.” As for the plan? The Mayor is “committed 1000 percent”, and “we’ll do our part to make sure the site is ready.”

Khan, for his part, believes “we’ve got to get moving forward” on the project. When asked why the proposal was omnibus rather than piecemeal, he was characteristically blunt. “A piece at a time doesn’t work — we’ve got to have a big vision”, and described the project as a “franchise stabilizer”.

Khan removed all doubt about his support for Mayor Brown also — there had been rumors floating around, since Khan’s appearance at a GOP fundraiser last year where he was introduced by Lenny Curry, that the Jaguars owner may lend support to the challenger.

“I support Alvin Brown, and I’m going to be supporting Alvin Brown. He does a great job for our city,” Khan stated.

Things are different now. The global economy is weird: oil is as close to free, in terms of real dollars, as ever, and the Bank of Japan set negative interest rates around the same time last night that Ben Carson was serving up his foreign policy word salad.

The Shipyards have taken a back burner to the $90 million in borrowed money (1/2 from the city) for Jaguars stadium complex development.

Meanwhile, the legacy of 2015’s speech: Shad Khan saying that he would take an active role in local politics.

He lost nothing by backing Alvin Brown for Mayor, and the 19-0 vote on the amphitheater deal says that much.

But since he decided to take an active role in Jacksonville politics, one might wonder what his positions are on issues besides public dollars for “franchise stability” might be.

Where is Khan on the murder wave? Does he back the Jax Journey programs?

Where is Khan on the Human Rights Ordinance? He does business in London and Illinois… would the First Baptist Church approach, the Ken Adkins and Raymond Johnson approach, fly there?

Will media ask him these questions?

We already know the Jaguars’ on-field performance is a “work in progress.”

The more compelling work in progress, though, is the evolving identity of Shad Khan as a political actor.

Todd Wilcox cultivates serious Jacksonville ties

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis represents Ponte Vedra in Congress, and his wife Casey is a television chat show host.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera has a campaign manager, Brian Swensen, who fulfilled a similar task for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Yet it’s Todd Wilcox, the seeming dark horse of the Florida GOP U.S. Senate derby, who is best positioned (perhaps) to make a play for the deep pockets and conservative voters of Northeast Florida.

His campaign manager, announced Tuesday, is Brian Hughes, who was not the campaign manager for Lenny Curry but who was operationally responsible, day in and day out, for ensuring that Curry’s message got through to the Jacksonville media.

In 2016, we can “assume” that Curry was “inevitable.”

However, those of us who lived and breathed Curry’s rise from irrelevance in the polls to the fourth floor of City Hall know the role of Hughes.

Nate Monroe of the Times-Union once put it something like this: The Curry team never let a news cycle go uncontested.

I can tell you from personal experience that is true.

Even before the Alvin Brown side put out press releases or advance notices to media, Hughes would have his counter-messaging quote ready, a function of deep and effective opposition research, coupled with a pugnacious candidate who campaigned like his life depended on winning that race.

Hughes ensured that Curry wasn’t defined by the Jacksonville media, one which effectively handed Brown the keys to City Hall, as his Republican opponent, Mike Hogan, pandered to the social conservatives and scared the moderate Republicans off into the unknown.

The Jacksonville media kept pointing to University of North Florida polls, sometimes even when they were close to a year old, as “proof” that Brown couldn’t lose.

Hughes helped to counter that narrative of inevitable reelection, focusing like a laser on every misstep the Brown administration made and blowing them up into murals depicting rank and epic incompetence.

Meanwhile, the campaign side: Hughes ran one campaign manager, Fabien Levy, out of town and into a role as “independent communications adviser.”

Levy’s replacement, Yianni Varonis, knew it was lost when his feet hit the ground in Jacksonville, and toward the end of the campaign said as much in various ways.

Varonis doesn’t even list the Brown stint on his LinkedIn page.

Can Hughes work the same magic for Todd Wilcox? Certainly, there will be that friendly rivalry with Swensen, and it will be interesting to watch how Team Wilcox goes on the offense, against CLC, DeSantis, and David Jolly.

And as he did in the mayoral race, he will have access to the considerable resources of Michael Munz and Peter Rummell on the financial side.

Those two men were the driving force behind the Curry money machine, one which ran certain Republicans out of the race before it started, leaving Bill Bishop as the only Curry opponent on the right.

Bishop, recall, lost the Duval Republican Executive Committee endorsement in January 2015 in a game of political hardball. His campaign worked miracles with just over $100,000 raised.

But Munz and Rummell, and their friends, gave until it hurt … especially to the Curry PAC, which spared no expense in sending bruising mailers out to boost Brown and Bishop’s negatives.

Notable: at Dalton Agency, Munz’s ad agency across Hemming Park from City Hall, there is office space for Data Targeting … where mastermind opposition researcher Tim Baker plies his trade.

The polls may have Wilcox at fourth. But watch that space. His Jacksonville connections may have the GOP Senate candidate positioned better very soon.

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