People interested in running for leadership positions in the Duval County Democratic Party are encouraged to declare their candidacies by Monday, asserts an internal email from the party.
While candidates can be nominated from the floor on Dec. 5, which is election night, it follows that most candidates who want to be taken seriously will have filed ahead of time.
The most interesting races on the ballot are at the top.
In the race for party chair, State Sen. Audrey Gibson looks to be the establishment favorite against insurgent hopeful James Deininger.
Gibson, a known quantity who combines legislative experience, institutional knowledge, and a direct line to the donor class, has been prominent in major party initiatives this year.
Among those: helping to ensure that Rep. Tracie Davis had a glide path to securing the nomination by acclamation to replace Reggie Fullwood as the House District 13 candidate.
Gibson was also instrumental in an unsuccessful last-minute push in August against Jacksonville’s “pension tax” referendum, which she said exemplified regressive taxation.
Deininger, meanwhile, is running a scrappy campaign, which includes lengthy screeds about how Gibson puts “politics over people.”
Deininger wants to expand the party by “rejecting identity politics and speaking to working class issues.” He believes that Gibson was late in objecting to the August referendum, and was absent from the public debate in the wake of Vernell Bing, Jr. being killed by a police officer this summer.
Though Gibson looks likely to win this race easily, the demands of her schedule in Tallahassee dictate that she might not be at every meeting.
This makes the race for vice-chair between Maceo George and Darren Mason one to watch.
George, who was president of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ local union for nine years, asserts in internal emails that for the past two years, he is “the only candidate who has taken the leadership role to restructure our party locally.”
George has sought to include voices beyond those of the 14 district leaders in meetings, and to ensure that “unfinished business” from past meetings is discussed at each meeting, providing continuity.
Meanwhile, Darren Mason is probably the better connected of the two candidates.
Mason notes, in his email declaring his candidacy, that the party has “not done a good job” reaching out to all communities in Jacksonville, and he would prioritize community engagement.
Mason also advocates a full-time executive director position for the party.
Mason is also prepared to “lead and run meetings” to stave off “stagnation,” should the chair be absent.