The number of Lenny Curry campaign events I covered is definitely in three figures. A common thread for many of them was how below the radar they were.
Endorsement events at local businesses. A speech to the Visit Jacksonville forum. An appearance at the recreation center in Grand Park. And so on.
The media wasn’t at a lot of these. Which was probably ideal, in some senses, as Curry was able to refine his message, his presentation, and, ultimately, turn his campaign from what seemed (to many) like a hypothetical last July into what we see as a fait accompli this July.
Now? Former Mayor Alvin Brown is headed to Disney World with his family. And Lenny Curry? We know where he will be for his next four years.
This may seem like an improbable outcome for those who told him Lenny, you can’t run; you can’t win; Alvin is over 70% in the polls.
But Curry, who learned how to hit and be hit playing football against bigger kids in high school, relished the challenge.
Curry’s campaign team, stalwarts such as Brian Swensen, Brian Hughes, and Tim Baker, kept doing the work of a professional campaign, everything from microtargeted messaging to not letting any message from Bill Bishop or Alvin Brown‘s myriad spox and surrogates go unchallenged.
Curry’s key local supporters, such as Michael Munz, Marty Fiorentino, Peter Rummel, and Tom Petway, doing their parts behind the scenes, from fundraising to maintaining message discipline when needed.
And former mayors John Delaney and John Peyton, who provided advice and counsel throughout the campaign and beyond.
The critics told Lenny Curry that he couldn’t win. Then when it looked imminent, they told him that he wasn’t winning fairly. They called him a Party Boss and worse.
None of that matters anymore.
A measure of the change: the profile piece WJXT ran about Lenny’s wife, Molly, and his three children, Boyd, Brooke, and Bridget.
They could have run that any time in the last year. The family dynamic, I am assured, has been stable through that entire time. Why now?
Because this is Jacksonville. And WJXT is establishment media. And part of that involves friendly stories about politicians, on whose good side they want to stay.
Curry, like anyone who succeeded against the odds, has no shortage of well-wishers and advice-givers. Everyone wants to be there when you win. Everyone wants to tell you that they knew you could do it, all along.
Will Curry buy into it? Doubtful.
He’s not a vengeful man, but he does have a memory, and memory keeps score. A key supporter told me on Tuesday about the various people who trash talked Curry when said supporter was listening, saying that he couldn’t win.
Well, Lenny Curry won.
He gets the plaudits and the platitudes. And he also gets Liberty Street, the Audit and the Budget, a violent crime wave that won’t magically abate once he is sworn in, and so on.
In Who the Cap Fits?, Bob Marley sang lyrics that apply.
“Your worst enemy could be your best friend, and your best friend could be your worst enemy.”
I’m not sure if Curry talked to former Mayor Brown about how that works. One thing that is clear about any Jacksonville mayor though is that supporters have their own time tables and expectations for when and how things should go down. Everyone who cares about politics has a wish list.
And Mayor Curry will have to learn, on the big stage, that the ultimate wish list is his own.
He will do that under the glare of camera lights, with a gaggle of reporters at every stop. Curry, an introvert by nature, will have to turn on the charm.
For four straight years.