Duval GOP elects Karyn Morton to chair

duval county gop

The Republican Party of Duval County elected Karyn Morton as its party chair on Monday, by an 82 to 52 margin over Cindy Graves.

Graves, who replaced Lake Ray when he declared for Congress in the spring of 2016, led the local party through a triumphant march to the election of Donald Trump.

For her efforts, though, she was jettisoned.

Graves was introduced by Property Appraiser Jerry Holland, who himself has been notable of late for his criticisms of the “game of thrones” approach to collective bargaining with public safety workers that some in Jacksonville advocate.

Karyn Morton, who has had interest in becoming chair, alluded to “past mistakes by leadership” in her speech.

Morton had simmered over being passed over for the chair in the past, but December 2016 saw her vindication at long last.

In a statement, Morton expressed her thoughts after her victory.

“First of all, I want to humbly thank the members of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee for electing me as their Chairman and want to congratulate Vice Chair Todd Nichols, Secretary John Craft and Treasurer Vic Cirillo on their victories. I also want to thank outgoing Chairman Cindy Graves for her tireless work for our Party. I ran for Chair on a platform of unity, transparency and conservative principles and I look forward to working with all of our membership to ensure Republican victory in 2018,” Morton wrote.

Notable to some observers: the money people, such as Mike Hightower and Toney Sleiman, left the room after Morton’s election.

Only three members of the Jacksonville City Council showed: now former Vice-Chair Sam NewbyDanny Becton, and Doyle Carter.

The result didn’t sit well with at least one prominent younger Republican, Robbie Foster.

“In 2008 the leadership of the Duval REC like John Falconetti, Lenny Curry and Cindy Graves inspired me to join some fellow young people and get involved. We volunteered for McCain-Palin, re-chartered the Jacksonville Young Republicans and now today I’m chairman of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans. I’m a proud supporter of our President Elect Trump, Senator Rubio, Governor Scott and Mayor Curry. It’s amazing to have such inspiring elected Republicans. But with the election of someone so uniquely unqualified to be REC Chair I will be reevaluating whether to remain a member of  the Duval REC,” Foster texted us after a request for comment.

Another veteran of party politics says this is the “worst leadership since 1980,” predicting that “Audrey Gibson will have a field day,” and that the party will “decentralize” in the short term … an important factor to watch as the 2018 races ramp up.

Alexander Pantinakis is special vice-chair, meanwhile, in a unique appointed role.

Morton abolished all of Graves’ appointed vice chairs, in another example of the changing of the guard.

Meanwhile, in a bit of intrigue, former Vice Chair Sam Newby (who has been a pointman for GOP outreach) refused a nomination for Vice Chair after Morton’s election.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Kay

    December 5, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Really???!!! Many of us were around in 1980 and the REC did just fine as it will do now! The Reagan team took over in 1980 And The Trump team has taken over today!

  • Judith Youngblood

    December 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    I have been active in Jacksonville politics since 1960 and know most of the players in both parties. I supported Karyn Morton after observing , for several years, her tireless and effective efforts to elect many of our current leaders. I recently was elected by all the Republican voters (not just REC members) as the State Committeewoman for Duval County and look forward to serving on the RPOF with Karyn. I am not only old friends with Toney Sleiman and his wife, but I also knew his parents circa 50 years ago. Audrey Gibson and her mother have been friends for many years and I live in Audrey’s State Senate District. I supported Karyn when she ran against Lake Ray, even though I went to Landon High School with his mother, because I knew she was as capable as he and had more time to devote as he was serving in the Legislature and we have stayed friends. The (now) former Chairwoman sent emails (including to me) telling people not to vote for me as State Committeewoman. If Karyn had not run against her, I would have! Ask former Mayor John Peyton – I told him. I have much more I could say, but nothing more I will say, as party and Jacksonville unity is our focus from now on.

  • S.E. Copeland

    December 8, 2016 at 1:37 am

    Karyn Morton is a shining example of every fine quality needed for leadership in the upper echelons of the DC REC/GOP.

  • Dwayne Clark Sr

    December 15, 2016 at 4:33 am

    I worked with Kayrn on many Campaigns. She has and still is instrumental to the Success of the Duval County GOP as well as the Republican Party as a whole. The Executive Committee is “fined tuned” and is ready to operate with “total efficiency” under Kayrn’s Tutorship!

Comments are closed.


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