Peter Rummell is among the leading names in Jacksonville’s Republican donor class, and he made news himself this weekend as part of a New York Times article detailing prominent GOP donors who no longer will back candidates who support assault weapons sales.
The article focused on Al Hoffman, a Florida-based political donor and businessman who in an email told six top GOP officials — including Gov. Rick Scott and Jeb Bush — that he’d stem campaign contributions to candidates, and their related committees, who do not support a ban on assault weapons.
Rummell, described as “a Jacksonville-based donor who gave $125,000 to Jeb Bush’s “super PAC” in 2016, said he was on board with Mr. Al Hoffman’s plan and would only contribute to candidates supportive of banning assault weapons.”
Rummell said, per the Times, “the Parkland shooting was a turning point: ‘It has to start somewhere,’ Mr. Rummell said, of controlling guns.”
Rummell has donated majorly to candidates and causes in the Jacksonville area, including but not limited to the last two successful mayoral campaigns and the pension reform referendum of 2016.
On Sunday, he explained his position further in a statement provided to Florida Politics.
“Al Hoffman has made a bold and decisive statement and his ultimate point is we need to do something major and radical-nipping at the edges isn’t working. Starting is hard and he’s taken what he considers to be an important first step. And, I totally agree that we as a nation need to focus on laws that would create a safer world for all. I am not sure that starting with just an ‘ultimatum’ is the right first step,” Rummell said, drawing a subtle but important distinction between his position and the rhetorical absolutism of Hoffman’s as documented by the NYT.
“We need a plan, a strategy and tactics. Starting any process is hard – especially one that is as serious, complicated and emotional as this is. Now is the time for us to have a debate that is honest, thoughtful and complete, taking into account all the important issues about how we live practically under the Second Amendment, which I fully support. The discussion needs to end with real transformation and actionable items that bring about real reform, protections and change,” Rummell said.
We’ve reached out to Jacksonville Republicans Mayor Lenny Curry and State Attorney Melissa Nelson, both of whom were endorsed by the National Rifle Association and backed by Rummell, for their thoughts.
Florida Republicans such as Gov. Scott and the leadership of the state Legislature support mental health restrictions for gun purchases and more funding for “school hardening,” but the wants of the donor class may go farther than that.