Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum, Philip Levine, and Chris King took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott Friday afternoon, charging that the state budget he signed fails to adequately fund public education, with Graham declaring, “This will be the last budget… that underfunds Florida’s students.”
“Rick Scott’s education budget includes a measly 47-cent increase for education — it fails to even cover the rate of inflation,” Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, declared in a statement issue by her gubernatorial campaign Friday. “The governor is so out of touch with Florida families he may actually think that’s enough to fund our schools, but 47 cents won’t even buy Rick Scott a gum ball.
On Friday Scott signed the 2018-’19 state budget with $88.7 billion in spending, and also vetoed $64 millionworth of line items. Scott’s office maintains the budget offers a record amount of spending on public schools, but Graham contends it falls far short of what is needed. Earlier, Graham had called for Scott to veto the budget, call the Florida Legislature back to a special session, and demand more money for public schools.
“When Rick Scott leaves the Governor’s Mansion this year, he’ll leave behind a legacy of cutting and underfunding public schools in Florida. This hasn’t just hurt our students — it hurts our economy and the entire state,” she continued. “Budgets, whether they’re made over a kitchen table or in the Capitol, are about priorities. For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have failed to make public education a priority, and, in 2018, voters will hold them accountable for their failures.”
She added this pledge: “As governor, I will pick apart the Republicans’ budget piece by piece to eliminate their wasteful spending and use those tax dollars where families will benefit — in our schools. Mark my words. This will be the last budget for next eight years that underfunds Florida’s students and schools.”
Gillum’s response took a similar tact he posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.
“A failure to properly fund our students education & not just a response to Parkland, is no surprise from @FLGovScott. Teachers & schools do some of the most important work on Earth: educating our kids. This budget falls well short of what our students need to learn and be safe,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, tweeted.
Levine, a businessman and former mayor of Miami Beach, also ripped into Scott over the schools spending, and also criticized the state’s spending for health care.
“Governor Rick Scott is ending his tenure as Governor the same way he started it––short-changing our schools, our teachers and our students,” Levine said in a statement issued by his campaign. As governor, I would never sign this out-of-touch budget. This budget does nothing to improve our state’s back-of-the-pack status in teacher pay, and continues to leave too many Floridians without access to health care. We need leaders that will invest in our education and healthcare, not leave them with pennies on the dollar.”
King, a Winter Park developer of affordable housing and senior housing, noted that any budget is a statement of priorities.
“Rick Scott’s [priorities] are dead wrong,” King said. “Our students and teachers deserve better than a paltry 47-cent increase, but nothing will change in Tallahassee until we change the types of leaders we send there.”
The leading Republican candidates are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has picked up an endorsement from Pennsylvania’s former governor Ed Rendell.
Rendell served as general chair of the Democratic National Committee during the last two years of the Clinton administration. He served two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor after that, and two terms as mayor of Philadelphia before his DNC post.
Levine is a former mayor of Miami Beach.
“I am proud to support Mayor Philip Levine to be the next governor of Florida,” Rendell said in a news release issued by Levine’s campaign. “As a former two-term mayor myself, I am happy to stand behind another mayor with a strong record of success, who has done the right thing for his community by taking bold action on climate change, raising the minimum wage, and fighting for the values that improve the lives of residents. During my time as governor, I realized I was incredibly well prepared for the challenges I would face because of my service as a two term mayor. As the former chair of the DNC, I also know what it takes to win tough races. Philip has everything it takes to win the Governor’s mansion after over 20 years of one-party rule and bring Florida Democrats together with a bold progressive vision for the future.”
Levine is battling with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republican candidates are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
“Ed is a good friend, an incredible mayor, and an accomplished governor in his own right,” Levine said in the release. “Our campaign continues to grow its support because Floridians know we will shake up Tallahassee and focus on getting things done. As governor, I’m committed to move Florida forward as a leader in the 21st century economy by investing in our public schools, our environment, our healthcare, and fighting for the real needs of Floridians.”
The 2018 Legislative Session finally wrapped. Now, in front of us, the madcap dash to the 2018 primaries in August is about to hit full stride.
For Jacksonville area voters, especially Democrats, these are exciting times. From competitive races for Congress to state Senate and state House, there are choices on the ballot. And narratives.
We will have them all for you in the coming months.
Speaking of that Legislative Session, Jacksonville did relatively well — $12.5 million, to be precise, for the Talleyrand Connector.
And we even have good news on other topics … including the right to yell DUUUUUUU-VALL … which (apparently) was in doubt.
Northeast Florida among Session’s big winners
Nobody expected a tragedy like Parkland to suck all the oxygen out of the Legislature’s Regular Session. Lobbyists were left scrambling to save their clients’ priorities as lawmakers hustled to rejigger the budget to accommodate hundreds of millions of dollars for school safety and mental health initiatives.
Some survived, many did not; although that’s no different from any other 60-day tumble in the Capitol.
That said, the past year has been an eventful one for Northeast Florida: Rob Bradley became Appropriations Chairman and performed like a seasoned professional. Future House Speaker Paul Renner capably handled his chamber’s tax package. Sen. Travis Hutson took some major steps toward becoming a future presiding officer.
And don’t forget Sen. Audrey Gibson, who ascended to the role of Leader-designate of the Senate Democrats.
If only there were a Jacksonville-based lobbying firm that works with them all … oh wait, there is — The Fiorentino Group, as well as Southern Strategy Group’s Matt Brockelman and Deno Hicks.
Lawson talks access to capital in Jacksonville
At the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Monday Morning, Rep. Al Lawson and Rep. James Comer helmed a Congressional field hearing for the Small Business Committee regarding access to capital disparities.
Access to capital disparities disproportionately impact female and minority-owned businesses, and the hearing in Jacksonville was intended to discuss potential remedies to the challenge.
“Capital is the lifeblood of any business,” Lawson said, noting that the average African-American startup is 18 percent less likely than white business owners to get help from the lending industry.
“Investors are predisposed to a preference to people who are similar to them,” Lawson added, and to that end, Monday’s hearing was intended to help women and minority-owned businesses voice their needs in the marketplace.
Brown appeals conviction
For great moments in ironic ledes, check out this chestnut from Roll Call:
The similarities between former House members and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers are few. But disgraced former Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida and Jon Bon Jovi are both livin’ on a prayer.
Last week, Brown’s attorney filed a 76-page appeal to her conviction on fraud and tax evasion charges, saying the judge in the case wrongfully removed a juror who claimed a “higher power” told him Brown was not guilty,
“The district court reversibly erred when it questioned a juror who had voted to acquit Congresswoman Brown,” the appeal states, “and then dismissed the juror over [a] defense objection based on nothing more than the juror having prayed for guidance and [believing] that he received guidance from the Holy Spirit that Congresswoman Brown was not guilty.”
Appeals on these grounds so far have flopped, and this one likely will also. Notable: prosecutors objected to the motion, saying it went over word count.
Fundraisers for Levine, Gillum
Two major Democratic candidates for Governor plan Jacksonville-area stops this week, as fundraising efforts continue for the August primary.
Philip Levine plans a “cocktail party” event Thursday evening, with a nascent host committee including Mark Frisch, Matt Kane and Ted Stein, among others.
The event honoring the Miami Beach Mayor will be at the Beaches Museum in Jacksonville Beach and will kick off at 6 p.m.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will have his own Jacksonville area event as well, from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, at the home of Erica and Colin Connor in Ponte Vedra Beach.
A minimum $50 buy-in is requested to attend the Gillum affair.
Levine and Gillum have had different approaches to campaign finance in this campaign.
Levine has spent over $4.6 million of personal funds on his campaign.
Gillum, without recourse to that kind of personal wealth, has had slower fundraising than other significant candidates and had just under $800,000 cash on hand.
Talleyrand Connector cash leads budget haul
Unless Gov. Rick Scott casts a surprising veto, it looks as if Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry will get state money for the “Talleyrand Connector,” which tears down the current Hart Bridge offramps that would activate Bay Street and help traffic flow to the port.
As the Florida Times-Union reported, $12.5 million of state money made it into the budget. Curry had personally lobbied regional and state power brokers and the capital moved from a $1 million placeholder to the full appropriation sought.
Jacksonville still seeks other money — specifically, $25 million from the Feds for an infrastructure grant — but city officials tell us that they could begin the project with the state money regardless.
By far, the Talleyrand money was the most prominent get from the state in this year’s budget.
“Senators approved it after barely 10 minutes of discussion. Immediately after, Sen. Dennis Baxley … walked across the Senate floor to shake Bradley’s hand,” the Times article asserted.
“I don’t think anybody’s rights or responsibilities changed with what we did,” Bradley said. “What we did is ensure that there will not be litigation on these questions.”
Record dings Hutson for last-minute ‘stealth annexation’ try
Sen. Hutson ran afoul of the St. Augustine Record this week for attempting to move some St. Johns County land that is part of the Nocatee land tract to Duval County.
The reason: The owners of the land (the Davises of Winn-Dixie fame) want the property in Duval.
The charge: “Nocatee has been given a pass by County Commissioners over the years to gut the affordable and workforce housing components and to renege on all its plans to put commercial property within the development. Perhaps more correctly, Nocatee is locating nearly all its commercial component into the sliver of land that juts into Duval County. Apparently, Duval might be considerably more zoning and impact fee-affable than we are.”
The plan failed this session … however, the Record vows vigilance.
“Much more likely is they saw that the window for approval was closing too quickly — and word got out. Better to quietly yank if from the bill and find another way to skin that cat next session. We bet they’ll be trying. You can bet we’ll be watching.”
Slow February in legislative fundraising
February offered a unique opportunity for people running against incumbents, who can’t fundraise during the Legislative Session, to make up ground in fundraising.
But — at least in competitive Northeast Florida races — they didn’t take up the gauntlet.
SD 6: Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown raised no money in February, his first month challenging Sen. Audrey Gibson for the Democratic Party nomination. Gibson, who couldn’t raise money, has $121,410 on hand.
HD 12: Republican Clay Yarborough has over $122,000 on hand, despite not being able to fundraise in February. Democrat Tim Yost, who did fundraise in February, brought in $1,429 and had $3,300 cash on hand.
HD 13: Incumbent Democrat Tracie Davis has $35,715 on hand; her intraparty challenger, Roshanda Jackson, was in the race for five days in February and spent not one of them fundraising.
With roughly a year before first elections in 2019 Jacksonville City Council races, now’s a good time to take a look at fundraising in selected races through February.
With $8,400 of new money in February, Matt Carlucci, a former Council Republican running for at-large Group 4, is still the clubhouse leader with just over $221,000 raised. Carlucci’s opponent, fellow former Council Republican Don Redman, has a lot of ground to make up. Word on the street is there will be more candidates in this one.
As we reported last week, Republican Ron Salem has over $150,000 on hand in at-large Group 2. This number puts him well ahead of former Jacksonville Councilman Bill Bishop. Bishop raised just $2,000 and has just over $13,200 on hand. Democrat Darren Mason only entered the race in March.
In Jacksonville City Council District 14, Democrat Sunny Gettinger showed respectable first-month fundraising numbers in February, bringing in over $34,000. Gettinger still has a way to go to catch Republican Randy DeFoor, who raised $4,350 in March, and has nearly $90,000 on hand.
The Florida Times-Union spotlights one of Jacksonville’s best-known nonprofits, Operation New Hope.
The Donald Trump administration has taken notice. Weeks after CEO Kevin Gay met with Jared Kushner to talk prison re-entry, the Springfield group hosted HUD Secretary Ben Carson doing a roundtable with former inmates who reformed their lives and got jobs with JAXPORT.
“It is the most bipartisan issue that our country has now,” Gay said. “Our country just needs something that we can all come around on. I don’t care where you are on the spectrum. Who can argue with improving public safety?”
As Florida Politics reported last week, Carson’s comments were a breath of fresh air from a Republican administration that postures as a law and order shop. Carson spoke at length about the penal system’s effects on young black men.
“Purely looking at the cost of someone who is incarcerated versus someone who is trying to bolster the economy,” Carson noted, “the difference is night and day. When we start to think about it that way, what it costs to train somebody, what it costs for someone to go to college, it costs more to keep somebody incarcerated.”
“It’s also costing us their own positive contributions and one of the things we need to realize about our young people is that we have so many in our penal system, particularly young black males, is that for every one we can keep from going down that path of self-destruction, it’s one less person we need to be afraid of or protect our family from,” Carson added.
Pinto named ’40 under 40′
This week, the Jacksonville Business Journal named Mark Pinto of the Fiorentino Group among 40 of Northeast Florida’s brightest, most promising professionals under the age of 40.
In 2012, Pinto served as the Special Assistant to then-Republican Party of Florida Chair Curry, where he worked with House and Senate Leadership, members of the Florida Cabinet, and the Governor’s Office.
Pinto began his political career with Florida Senate President-designate Bill Galvano of Bradenton during his tenure as Rules Chair of the Florida House. He worked on Galvano’s first political campaign and served as his aide in the House.
Prior to his service in the House, Pinto worked for former Congressman Dan Miller, also from Bradenton, and has been active in local, state, and national politics, and has volunteered and raised funds for numerous political campaigns. He also recently served on the St. Johns County Chamber Economic Development Council.
Fanatics owner mulls NFL team purchase
Jacksonville’s Fanatics had all but cornered the market on licensed sports apparel. And soon, its owner may be moving from clothing to owning a franchise.
Per the Florida Times-Union: Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin is seriously interested in making a run at owning the Carolina Panthers.
“Rubin would be entering a somewhat crowded field of bidders for the Panthers, who were put up for sale by owner Jerry Richardson late last year following allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct. According to ESPN, other bidders include a hedge fund billionaire and the founder and CEO of a debt collection firm.”
“Rubin, 45, is worth an estimated $3 billion by Forbes and would be a familiar name to the league’s other owners. Last May, the NFL invested $95 million for a 3 percent stake in Fanatics. That deal boosted Fanatics’ value to more than $3.17 billion at the time.”
DUUUUUVALLL for Y’all
Another piece of football news. In March, no less.
First Coast News reports that “The Jaguars, who caught flak from local groups after trademarking the phrase, “Duuuval,” have seemingly dropped the trademark tag from their social media after receiving criticism for the move.”
From the Jags: “It’s important to note that the Jaguars have not submitted an application to register the wordmark ‘DUUUVAL.’ The only actions taken to date were intended to protect our ability to continue to use this specific wordmark to promote our fan base and our team in the future, given that it became associated with our fans and the team on a national level this past season. In addition, even if we were to seek trademark registration, it would not prohibit any fan from continuing to say or use the word Duval in general.”
Long story short, keep yelling it from the mountaintop.
Take a good look at the picture below of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham participating in her latest “workday.”
On Tuesday, the former U.S. Representative was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee. Graham spent a shift helping out at an early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of migrant families.
Of note: Bob Graham performed a workday with the RCMA as Governor in 1983.
I see a mother who knows the value of being patient with a child.
I see a wife who had the strength to help her husband through a battle with cancer.
I see the gentle wrinkles of time underneath a face beaming with hope.
I know this is cheesy to say, but I got emotional when I first saw these pictures of Graham, who admittedly is probably my first or second choice to be the next Governor of Florida.
If nothing else, what I see here is the exact opposite of the awkward (albeit effective) current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.
I see the opposite of the wannabe Fox News studio host who is also running for Governor (Ron DeSantis).
I see the opposite of the less-than-genuine Republican who is most likely to face Graham in November (Adam Putnam).
Yet, as I look at the earnestness of this woman, with whom I have connected but really don’t know, I can’t help but wonder:
Why isn’t her campaign doing better?
Why is she struggling to raise real money?
Why do so many Democrats say that she is “boring” on the campaign trail?
Why do I have this bad feeling in my stomach about where Graham’s campaign will end?
Graham is in a difficult position right now as the politics of Parkland reshape the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial race.
On her left, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is winning the competition for earned media. He’s on MSNBC. He’s being written up in The Washington Post. Kevin Cate, one of his media advisers, can show you stats about clicks and likes and retweets that indicate Gillum is the candidate most in sync with Democratic primary voters.
On Graham’s other flank is former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Where Gillum’s campaign is being infused with the oxygen of earned media, Levine’s effort is being propelled by a seemingly unending number of personal checks to pay for a stream of television ads.
Also in the mix is Orlando businessman Chris King, who has yet to register with most voters, but whose presence in the race is just another indication that the primary is a wide-open affair.
On Wednesday, Levine scored the endorsement of former state lawmaker Keith Fitzgerald, who will serve as a policy adviser to the campaign. Why is this significant? Because Fitz — so respected by the Steve Schales of the party — is the kind of center-left Democrat Graham needs to win the primary.
Had Graham won the backing of Poe and/or Fitzgerald, it probably would not have registered. It would have just been another indication of Graham sewing up the establishment’s support.
Instead, there are now two more cracks in Gwen Graham’s facade.
Appearing on Fox News Tuesday morning, Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis defended the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican declaration Monday that it was ending its Russia probe after concluding there had been no collusion with Russia by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
DeSantis, a congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, said he thinks the Russians’ activities “are malevolent” but he charged that the Democrats politicized the investigation by making it about Trump, and said it is time to move on.
“There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on to that,” DeSantis said. “Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice,” DeSantis said on Fox News’ “Happening Now” show.
DeSantis faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, with the expected additional entry into the Republican race of Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran.
“But I think the problem with this is since Trump was elected it was politicized and the Democrats tried to lump Trump in with some type of nefarious Russian activity. And there’s just no basis for that other than the Steele dossier, which is not verified. There has never been evidence put forward. They’ve been doing this for over a year. They made the right decision. It’s time to move on.”
DeSantis did not make any references to the ongoing independent investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or the four members of Trump’s campaign team who have been indicted in Mueller’s Russia probe.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is launching new television commercials Tuesday addressing post-Parkland calls for assault weapon bans and universal background checks.
The 30-second spot “The Moment” is being released in both English and Spanish versions for English and Spanish television stations in all Florida television markets, part of a $1.3 million ad buy from his official gubernatorial campaign. His independent political committee All About Florida also has been spending millions of dollars on television commercials.
With video cutting from shots of Levine speaking to rallies following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine begins by declaring, “This is one of those moments when we lose something so precious to us, there is nothing we won’t do to make it right.
“Now Floridians are standing up to gun violence, demanding universal background checks, bans on assault rifles, and protecting our schools,” he continues. “I’m Philip Levine, and I’m running for Governor because I’m a parent who will not stop at anything until we make our gun laws stronger and our children safe.”
Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, is in a battle with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“While session has ended with a small step forward on gun reform, the calls for bold action demanded by the majority of Floridians were ignored by the governor and Legislature. It’s deeply frustrating that Republicans in Tallahassee were more focused on arming school personnel than taking military-style weapons off the streets. The new ad released today reiterates Mayor Levine’s commitment to take these issues directly to the people as Governor, and seize the moment to make our gun laws stronger and make sure our children are safe,” Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to Levine, stated in a news release.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised $905,630 for his gubernatorial bid in February, ending the month with nearly $17.5 million on hand.
Putnam is one of three major Republicans running to replace termed-out Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. He faces U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Putnam’s campaign finance report is not yet available through the Florida Division of Elections, but his campaign said $636,550 of the February money came in through Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, with the other $269,080 coming in through his campaign account.
The two accounts had about $16.8 million on hand at the end of January, putting February spending at approximately $200,000. Florida Grown records show he spent at least $124,000 through his committee last month.
His campaign said more than 99 percent of the February contributions came from Florida individuals and businesses.
Putnam is still far ahead of his rivals in total fundraising, with $24.49 million brought in to date, though he wasn’t the top fundraiser last month.
Corcoran, who has not officially entered the race, has raised $6.6 million for his political committee, Watchdog PAC. He had about $5 million of that on hand at the end of January.
Four major Democrats are also running for governor in 2018: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Rutherford said last week.
Rutherford believes his Stop School Violence Act offers security measures, including having teachers look for “warning signs” of “potential mass casualty shooters.”
Rutherford also dodged questions on divergences between him and Donald Trump that came to the fore during a televised White House meeting last week.
Additionally, he said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a “unique opportunity” to change the culture in the Department of Justice. He didn’t offer much detail on that point, however.
Lawson plans Jacksonville roundtable
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson will host a House Small Business Committee hearing Monday, March 12, at 10 a.m. at the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“Disparities in Access to Capital: What the Federal Government Is Doing to Increase Support for Minority-Owned Firms,” per Lawson’s office, will “examine the unique challenges minorities and women-owned businesses face when seeking funding from the Small Business Administration, traditional banks, private investment capital and additional financing mechanisms.”
The hearing will explore ways to overcome difficulties in securing financing by minority-owned businesses.
Davis’ parents back Brown
Alvin Brown was Jacksonville mayor when Jordan Davis was gunned down in 2012 at a gas station on the Southside.
In the years since, Brown has demonstrated support and friendship to Davis’ parents, and that support was reciprocated, via an official endorsement for Congress Wednesday.
Ron Davis and Lucy McBath, offered a joint statement, one that invoked both the Parkland massacre and the National Rifle Association.
“Nearly six years ago, our 17-year-old son Jordan was gunned down at a gas station in Jacksonville for simply playing music too loudly. The recent tragedy in Parkland shows just how little progress we’ve made, and how much more we still have to do, to keep our communities and kids safe from gun violence. This issue is truly one of life or death, and the stakes are too high for more excuses from do-nothing lawmakers, with our children’s blood on their hands, who ignore what’s in their heart to focus on what’s in their pocket. They readily support ‘Stand Your Ground’ and side with the NRA. Alvin Brown is a dedicated public servant with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby, and we know he will help make our country a safer, better place. We are proud to support his campaign.”
St. Johns Sheriff backs Johns in CD 6
St. Johns County Commissioner Jimmy Johns scored a significant endorsement Wednesday, from St. Johns Sheriff David Shoar, in the crowded GOP primary in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.
Shoar cited Johns’ “track record of supporting our public safety officers. He has done so on the St. Johns County Commission and will do so in Washington.”
Shoar pivoted from that track record to asserting that Johns was “someone that understands what it takes to keep our country safe, not only at home but at our border.”
Johns said it was “always humbling when such a highly respected law enforcement officer steps up to endorse.”
Shoar “has been on the front lines and knows what it takes to keep us safe,” Johns said. “I will rely on him and the public safety communities to make sure that the laws passed in Washington protect citizens against murderous foreign gangs and solving the nation’s opioid crisis. We need to listen to those tasked with protecting us for solutions to these issues.”
The GOP field in the district, one that runs from St. Johns County south to Volusia, has some candidates already, including former Ormond Beach state Rep. Fred Costello, businessman John Ward, and former Green Beret and current Fox News commentator Michael Waltz.
One of these Republicans will emerge from the primary to face likely Democratic nominee Nancy Soderberg in the general election.
Hogan knows best?
The race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jay Fant, an Attorney General hopeful, in Jacksonville’s House District 15 got more crowded on the Republican side Wednesday.
Joseph Hogan, the son of Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, entered the GOP scrum.
Hogan will face attorney Wyman Duggan and yacht broker Mark Zeigler in the primary.
Hogan made an audacious play during the Mayor’s race three years ago. He endorsed Democrat Alvin Brown over Republican Lenny Curry, crossing party lines despite what he called Brown’s “failed administration.”
“I didn’t make my decision lightly,” related Hogan in a series of text messages. “I plan to run for City Council one day, and I know that supporting Alvin could hurt me with the Party folk, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”
“I don’t look forward to Lenny losing, but someone has to win, and I think the people of Jacksonville are better off with Mayor Alvin Brown,” Hogan added.
The seeds for that endorsement, Hogan related, were planted four years prior, in the aftermath of his father’s narrow defeat at the hands of the Brown operation, upon which Curry said that “excuses are for serial losers,” a shot across the bow of the Hogan campaign that Joe took personally.
Interestingly, Hogan filed for the race just hours after Curry filed to run again for Mayor.
Curry’s chief political strategist, Tim Baker, is running the Wyman Duggan campaign, suggesting that there may be intrigue through August in this race.
Daniels’ NPA opponent touts fundraising
State Rep. Kim Daniels, an iconoclastic Jacksonville Democrat, has the Jacksonville political establishment behind her.
Among her January donors: members of the Rummell family, the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, and local dog track interests.
Daniels has nearly $16,000 cash on hand; however, her NPA opponent, Darcy Richardson, believes that he can be competitive in the November election.
Richardson claims to have raised “more than $6,100 as of yesterday. Most of those contributions will appear on my initial campaign finance filing covering the 12-13 days since opening my campaign account on Feb. 16. The balance — approximately $1,400 — will be reflected in the month of March.”
“That’s more than Republican Christian Whitfield raised during the entire 2016 election cycle. I haven’t begun to do any serious fundraising yet — that’ll happen over the next couple of months. And despite the district’s unfavorable demographics, I’m confident that I’ll be able to raise enough to put up a fight against arguably one of the most reprehensible and outlandish state lawmakers in the country,” Richardson adds.
Jacksonville Democrats have discussed primarying Daniels, but any expectations of that should be tempered by the incumbent’s strong community support.
It remains to be seen if Daniels can also be capsized by an NPA candidate.
Former Duval Dem chair running for state House
Neil Henrichsen, a former chair of the Duval County Democratic Party, is running for a state House seat in Volusia County.
He will face Republican incumbent state Rep. David Santiago of Deltona.
Henrichsen, 55, of Deltona, is the second Democrat in the race. But the other, Tyran Rayaad Basil, has raised little money and shows minimal campaign activity — especially given his early start in April.
“Volusia County has always been a big home … and that’s a seat that should be Democratic,” he said. “It has a handful more registered Democrats and a representative in Santiago who has not done a lot for the district or the state.”
Henrichsen said he expects Santiago to be vulnerable for one vote. Two weeks ago, with survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre looking on, Santiago voted against allowing floor debate on House Bill 219, which would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Curry files for re-election
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Except for a brief period when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was discussed as a possible chief financial officer appointment, there has been little doubt that he would run for re-election.
The first inkling of that effort’s branding emerged Wednesday morning, via a new cover photo on his campaign Facebook page.
The second, more definitive nugget: Curry filing for re-election Wednesday morning.
The third indication: a new political committee, Jacksonville On the Rise, which launched a six-figure TV and digital ad campaign Wednesday.
As was the case during his original campaign, the logo incorporates a bridge motif; the message is minimalistic: “Our mayor.”
For those familiar with the “One City, One Jacksonville” slogan, it’s clear that candidate Curry will run as a uniter, not a divider, in his re-election bid.
Will anyone serious jump into this race against him?
New Curry ad touts first-term accomplishments
Jacksonville on the Rise, a new local political committee designed to boost Mayor Lenny Curry‘s re-election bid, released its first ad this week: a six-figure buy.
To see the ad, click the image below:
As one would expect, the ad extols Curry’s first term accomplishments, framing them in a holistic, big picture narrative that makes the case that the mayor has kept the city safe and has instituted meaningful reforms.
The ad trumpets investments in technology, such as ShotSpotter, and Curry adding 180 positions to the Sheriff’s Office and 225 Fire and Rescue workers, a fulfillment of a campaign promise to remedy public safety staffing shortages.
Additionally, the spot mentions children’s program reforms, via the Kids Hope Alliance: “a partnership with teachers and community leaders who help our children see their dreams become reality.”
The ad also discusses “balancing the budget without raising taxes” and “increased transparency” and “accountability” to the “taxpayers.”
Toward the close, the spot describes the city’s reaction to the hurricanes that came through in back to back years.
“We came together as a city,” Curry says in the voice-over.
On Tuesday, Democratic Councilwoman Katrina Brown launched her bid for re-election in District 8. Days before that, Republican Al Ferraro launched his re-election bid in District 2.
Brown and Ferraro face different paths to re-election.
Brown has issues other incumbents don’t. She has run afoul of the police union and has gotten tough coverage for a failed economic development deal from her family businesses.
Because of these perceived vulnerabilities, Brown faces a bevy of challengers: Diallo Sekou — Seabrooks, Michael Sell, Brandon Byers, Joenetta Dixon, Tameka Gaines Holly, and Albert Wilcox are all in the race against her.
Jacksonville municipal elections involve a “first election” in March, a blanket primary that sees the top two finishers move on to the May election, assuming no one clears 50 percent + 1 in March.
Expect the District 8 race to go the distance.
In Ferraro’s race, one can expect much less drama.
Ferraro has been a steady presence for his district in Council, advocating for issues such as drainage and other infrastructure.
His district is heavily Republican, and he is so far unopposed.
Redman seeks Council return
Of all the candidates in the 2019 Jacksonville City Council races, veteran Republican politician Matt Carlucci has the most impressive fundraising: $221,150 raised, with over $208,000 on hand.
Carlucci was alone on the ballot for at-large Group 4; however, that has changed with the filing of another man looking to return to City Council: Don Redman.
Redman, a Republican who represented a Southside Jacksonville district from 2007 to 2015, has been noted for a certain brand of social conservatism.
As the Florida Times-Union reported, he was best known on Council for asking a Muslim to “pray to his God” at the podium during a Council meeting, and for asking a lesbian at a different Council meeting if she considered herself male or female.
Redman ran most recently in the Republican primary in House District 12, a seat won by Clay Yarborough.
Redman’s fundraising was lackluster; he didn’t even raise $30,000 in the 17-month duration of his campaign. He garnered under 13 percent of the vote for a seat that encompasses his old City Council district.
It remains to be seen if Redman has broad appeal in a citywide race.
Salem clears $150K raised-mark
The money chase in the Jacksonville City Council at-large group 2 race continues to go Republican Ron Salem‘s way.
February saw Salem clear $150,000 cash on hand between hard money and lucre in his “Moving Jacksonville Forward” political committee.
Salem brought in $6,800 in new money to his campaign account in February, despite a $1,000 refund to Gate Petroleum.
The vast majority of the new money came from the energy sector and nursing home interests.
All told, Salem has over $143,500 on hand in his campaign account and an additional $8,000 in his committee.
Salem is well ahead of his two opponents.
Former Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop has not filed February numbers yet, but had just over $13,000 at the end of January.
And Democrat Darren Mason just launched his campaign in March.
Per the Jacksonville Daily Record, plans to develop an entertainment district on a stadium parking lot may be complicated by unremediated environmental issues.
“Jaguars President Mark Lamping said in January the organization plans to turn Parking Lot J, an almost 10-acre plot west of the Daily’s Place amphitheater and a nearby retention pond, into a 250,000-square-foot entertainment district,” the Record asserts.
However, there is oil under the pavement, rendering the property usable only for industrial purposes, per the city.
Remediation would be a must. What is uncertain (at this time) is who will pay for it.
And the timetable thus far is uncertain; the Jaguars will address this matter next in April, at the annual State of the Franchise address.
The internecine battles continue in the Republican Party of Duval County. The latest involves the county chair looking to purge the statewide chair of the Young Republicans.
County chair Karyn Morton wrote Florida Federation of Young Republicans chair Robbie Foster March 3, informing him of a motion to vote him out March 19.
The cause: “highly disruptive outbursts” at the January meeting of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee. These were, per Morton, “the culmination of a pattern of disruptions over the past year … very loud outbursts and vulgar language … erratic behavior” that “frightened” REC stalwarts.
Morton offered Foster the chance to “avoid further embarrassment” by resigning before the March meeting.
Foster has no intention of resigning, he told Florida Politics Tuesday afternoon.
In fact, he sees the putsch as symbolic of rating Morton a broader issue with Morton’s leadership.
“This city will take a beating on the Super Bowl,” Edwards predicted. And after the national articles maligning the city’s lack of cabs and hotels and first-rate entertainment options, he was right.
“The No. 1 job of government is to serve the general public, not special interests,” Edwards said. “Jacksonville has a reputation of serving the special interests first. It’s worse now than ever.”
Spoiler alert: it never got better.
He called the donor class the “syndicate,” and it’s only for lack of gumption among his peers that phrase didn’t stick.
Edwards’ ultimate target, at least this century, was spending on the Jacksonville Jaguars; he maligned the lack of accountability of expenditures on matters ranging from bringing the team to Jacksonville to the aforementioned ill-fated Super Bowl.
“The city pledged some $3 million to the event, and ultimately spent $11 million. But despite requests from several local papers and auditors to the Jacksonville City Council for detailed financial accounting, city officials and the committee refused to provide receipts, contracts or other documentation. Although the committee was subsidized with city funds, staffed with several city employees and tasked with providing a public function on behalf of the city both the city and the committee claimed the agency’s records were not public.”
He was a gadfly. A muckraker. And the kind of journalist that doesn’t exist in this market anymore.
Now that he has passed on, it’s safe for the Jacksonville City Council to admit that he was right all along.
— Councilman Scott Wilson is the third person in the Jacksonville City Council VP race, joining Sam Newby and Danny Becton. Both Newby and Becton have one pledged supporter; the race is wide-open.
— Rory Diamond, running to replace termed-out Bill Gulliford in Council District 13, has already banked $100,000 and has an all-star fundraiser for next week.
Lobbyists (Marty Fiorentino, Paul Harden, Steve Diebenow, Deno Hicks and Susie Wiles) are on board. Former Mayors (John Peyton and John Delaney) and Council Presidents-in-waiting (Aaron Bowman) are there also.
Diamond, a Tim Baker client, thus far is unopposed.
One wonders if Councilman Gulliford will endorse him … or will wait it out.
JAXPORT closer to Carnival deal
JAXPORT is eyeing its first multiyear contract with Carnival Cruise Lines.
This week, CEO Eric Green told the JAXPORT board he has been actively pursuing the agreement, and assured board members that negotiations are going well.
As reported by the Jacksonville Business Journal, chief operating officer Fred Wong has been a critical part of the dialogue with Carnival. Wong worked with Carnival often as an assistant director at the Port of Miami before joining JAXPORT.
“It seemed as though we will go from a year-to-year contractual agreement to a multiyear contractual agreement,” said Green.
Carnival’s current contract expires May 1, Green said, and if the issue is not settled by then, an emergency board session could be called to provide an extension.
JAXPORT is continuing its strong first quarter, said CFO Michael Poole, with better-then-predicted vessel calls, container counts and revenue in January.
As the Port Authority looks toward the second phase of its harbor deepening project, JAXPORT is currently A rated by Moody’s and Fitch, essential in keeping interest rates low on its debt
With $193 million outstanding, JAXPORT is estimating liability to rise to $252 million by 2020 — bolstered by its share of the harbor deepening project, berth enhancements among other debts.
Despite that, Poole told board members he is confident JAXPORT can keep its A rating.
Crowley to open new Jacksonville cold-storage facility
Crowley Logistics is expanding its distribution capability in Florida with a second CrowleyFresh cold-storage facility.
Crowley’s second humidity and temperature-controlled facility will be located at its West 30th Street distribution center in Jacksonville. It will help boost cold-chain services between South Florida and Northeast Florida.
Crowley senior Vice President Frank Larkin said in a statement: “This second cold storage facility in Florida represents the latest in a series of service enhancements designed to increase the velocity of our customers’ supply chains, decrease total landed costs and offer seamless and reliable collaboration among the varying components of transport.”
The facility will handle perishables moving between the U.S., South America and the Caribbean and is designed for maximum food safety and avoid cross-contamination.
According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, CrowleyFresh is a partnership of Crowley Logistics and Miami-based Customized Brokers, which already have a facility in Miami; the new addition will expand the capability to 400,000 cubic feet of total refrigerated space and 117,000 square feet of dry storage space for non-perishables.
Customers love JAX
For the second year in a row, Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) ranked first among North American Airports for customer service.
The Airports Council International (ACI), the global airport trade association, named JAX among the leaders of the 2017 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. JAX tied for first with Indianapolis International Airport.
ASQ is the industry’s only global benchmarking program to measure overall airport passenger satisfaction. The survey covers 34 performance indicators of the customer service experience: check-in; security; wayfinding; food/beverage and more.
The result is a comprehensive database of customer service experiences at each participating airport.
Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman said: “Whether an airline employee, custodial staff or a restaurant server, everyone plays an integral role ensuring a world-class airport experience. None more so than input from our travelers. Their insight lets us know when we’re doing well while also providing a roadmap for future improvements.”
ASQ is the only comprehensive program to survey passengers at the airport on their day of travel. Nearly three-quarters of the world’s top 100 busiest airports are part of the ASQ network; the program served 343 airports in 2017.
“Objective measurement and benchmarking are critical in driving performance in any business especially in such a competitive and dynamic one as an airport,” said Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World. “These winning airports have dedicated themselves to delivering a stellar customer experience.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is reporting that his campaign and independent political committee combined raised more than $2 million in February.
DeSantis, the Republican congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, announced Wednesday that his official campaign raised $471,000 and his Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee raised $1,616,000 during the month, giving him a 50-day tally of more than $5.4 million in the two funds. That includes $2.4 million transferred to the political committee from another political committee, Fund for Florida’s Future.
The Florida Secretary of State has not yet posted returns from either his campaign nor the political committee.
DeSantis’ campaign stated Wednesday that they now have a combined $5.2 million cash on hand. In January the campaign had raised more than $131,000, while the political committee had raised $3.2 million.
DeSantis is seeking the Aug. 28 Republican primary nomination to run for Governor, competing with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Expressing frustration with what the Florida Legislature is doing with guns and schools, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is placing another nearly $2 million buy for statewide TV commercials this month, his campaign announced Monday.
The commercials will continue for a while with his “We Will” spot that launched in late February on a $750,000 statewide-buy, declaring the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “a wakeup call we can’t ignore.” By mid-March that likely will be replaced by a new TV commercial, his campaign indicated.
Levine is running against former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination. He is the only Democrat to air TV commercials yet, and his buys already have gone over $4 million prior to March. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
The latest TV buy will be split between Levine’s independent political committee “All About Florida” and his official Levine for Governor campaign. All About Florida will be spending $630,000 to continue running “We Will” through about March 11, while the official campaign will spend about $1.3 million on TV commercials for the rest of the month. All the commercials will run statewide, in either English or Spanish, depending upon the stations.
“As the Republican Legislature continues their political double talk on legislation, Mayor Philip Levine has made it clear that the time is now to enact sensible gun safety reforms that take Florida from having the weakest gun safety laws in the nation to the strongest,” declared a statement released by campaign consultant Christian Ulvert. “The Mayor opposes efforts to arm teachers with weapons and reaffirms the public’s call for an assault weapons ban, raising the age to 21 for gun purchases, and universal background checks, in addition to closing any loopholes.”
In the current “We Will” commercial Levine expresses his goals of “reasonable gun regulations, better background checks, and a permanent ban on assault rifles.”
The commercial begins with Levine standing next to a school bus saying, “When we send our children off to school, we want to know they’re safe. But here in Florida, despite 14 school shootings in 8 years, we still have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. And the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High is a wakeup call we can’t ignore.