One somewhat ironic sobriquet for oft-sleepy Jacksonville is “Actionville.” As those familiar know, the action is largely elsewhere.
However, that’s not the case in the 2019 elections, where pitched battles await in at least some of the following donnybrooks. Qualifying ends Friday at noon. Here’s what’s in play.
Mayor: Incumbent Republican Lenny Curry has $3 million cash on hand, a lot of money for a local race. His political team is confident in Curry’s polling across the board, including with Democrats. And there is a record to run on. Curry hired more police and fire, reformed children’s services, reformed public pensions (no more defined benefits for new hires, who are in a defined contribution scenario going forward).
But those expecting a coronation re-election will be disappointed. Even though the field of officially-filed Curry opponents thus far has been a collective non-starter, qualifying could present a scenario where Curry’s staunchest critics from the Council dais emerge as campaign opponents.
Republican Anna Brosche has been sparring with Curry for the better part their tenure, and she spent much of 2018 positioning herself for a mayoral run. She seems likely to pull the trigger. Republican consultants Ryan Wiggins and Anthony Pedicini seem to have an interest in this race, setting up a bloody battle with Curry op Tim Baker.
This is going to look like a Republican primary: hand grenades, Molotov Cocktails, and the nastiest oppo around.
Beyond Brosche, Democrat Garrett Dennis could be a factor,
Sources familiar with Dennis’ thinking suggest that he is not opposed to running against Brosche. The two are friends and allies, and to be sure, Curry’s team would work to drive wedges between them if they both qualified for Mayor.
Dennis and/or Brosche wouldn’t have the war chests Curry has. But the goal would be to force a runoff after the March election and go from there.
If they can hold Curry below 50 percent, that could happen. Emphasis on could.
Brosche may file Friday. Dennis, who could try for Mayor or for Supervisor of Elections against Republican Mike Hogan, would be well-advised to beat the rush and make his move as soon as possible after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
The March race for Duval County Tax Collector got more interesting Wednesday when Democrat John Crescimbeni, a termed-out City Council fixture, filed to run.
Incumbent Republican Jim Overton, a former City Council colleague of Crescimbeni’s, won a special election in November for the vacated seat.
Crescimbeni has a vision for the office: to improve customer service. He cites his background in retail as a value add here against Overton, who spent three terms as property appraiser.
This shapes up to be a jabby, insidery kind of election, with weird oppo pushed about millage hike votes in years gone by, discussion of pensions, and all the rest,
Mia Jones is still listed as an active candidate also. After “prayer and contemplation,” she’s taking a hard pass.
Property Appraiser and Sheriff
The incumbents here, Republicans Jerry Holland and Mike Williams, face nominal opposition in Democrats Kurt Kraft and Tony Cummings.
The Democrats haven’t raised much money, and haven’t elicited media interest.
While Tax Collector may be over in March, these races were over long before that.
Supervisor of Elections
Four more years for Republican Mike Hogan? Depends on whether Garrett Dennis runs for Mayor or not. Right now, Hogan’s the only name filed.
Former state House candidate Tracye Polson, we hear, is not looking at a 2019 run. She could have ran At-Large District 5 or City Council District 14. In each race, there are viable Democrats with established candidacies.
Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown: also sitting this out, per reliable sources.
However, we do hear that Lisa King, current chair of the Duval County Democrats, is looking at a run … perhaps in At-Large Group 1 against Republican Terrance Freeman and NPA hopeful Connell Crooms. The Democrats meet Tuesday. Could that be the last day of her chair position, a prelude to another run for City Council?