While we had a reasonably comprehensive look into the mechanics of Bill Bishop endorsing Alvin Brown on Thursday, new information has come to light, via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union, that puts that endorsement in a different context: namely, competing claims from Bishop and Lenny Curry about the lead up to the endorsement.
Curry said that Bishop, by endorsing Brown, reneged on statements he made in meetings with Curry following the March 24 first election.
During those meetings, Curry said Bishop had made it clear he would not endorse in the race and believed Jacksonville would face a “lost decade” if Brown were to win re-election. Curry also said that, during an April 9 meeting, he got the sense Bishop was fishing for a job or future role in Curry’s administration if he were to win.
There “were strong implications made by him about what his role would be in my administration,” Curry said.
Curry said he reminded Bishop at the time that it was illegal to have such discussions and then changed the subject.
Bishop’s response: “This is silly stuff.”
He laughed off those accusations, saying, “Lenny can go tell people whatever he wants.”
Curry confirmed to me that it was clear what Bishop wanted out of the deal. And that raises some serious questions.
Consider that Bishop was telling me and other people a few months back that Brown was a “lousy mayor.” Then consider the footsie his campaign staff played with the endorsement email that Bishop didn’t seem to mind all that much. Then consider the language of Thursday’s endorsement, in which Bishop referred to it as a “unilateral exercise,” and indeed it was exercise, as Bishop spent a good fifteen minutes strenuously walking back the claims he spent an entire year making on the campaign trail.
Even the question as to whether or not there was a quid pro quo in exchange for the endorsement was not exactly answered.
Bill Bishop has every right to endorse a candidate; let’s be clear on that. The T-U report raises serious questions about the integrity of that endorsement and how much it actually means though. And those questions should be answered.
What has changed in the last few months to change Brown from being a “lousy mayor” in Bishop’s eyes to a man worthy of four more years? Would Brown’s reelection be tantamount to a “lost decade” for Jacksonville or not? Have there ever been any conversations between Bishop and Alvin Brown, or his representatives, about a concrete role in the Brown Administration should there be a second term? These are the salient questions emerging from Thursday’s endorsement event, and Jacksonville voters deserve straight answers.