A deaf activist who gained prominence in Jacksonville filed for Mayor in 2018, but 2019 brought a change of heart.
Connell Crooms, who became famous after he was beaten down by local police as a protest went awry in downtown Jacksonville, filed to run for Mayor last year.
With the qualifying deadline just a week away, Crooms redirected, moving his candidacy to At-Large District 1.
That seat is currently held by Republican Anna Brosche, who is moving closer to an official challenge to incumbent Republican Mayor Lenny Curry
Crooms, with just over $5,200, is now at least nominally the biggest fundraiser in this race, which includes three Republicans: perennial candidate Jack Daniels; former state House candidate Christian Whitfield (who likely won’t run in the end); and current District 10 Councilman Terrance Freeman.
Freeman will be the establishment choice.
Freeman, a former assistant to Council President Aaron Bowman, left that post to run in the 2016 Republican primary in House District 12. He finished a strong second to eventual winner Clay Yarborough, with big fundraising and organizational help keeping him competitive to the end.
Freeman will enjoy support from the Curry/Bowman nexus, with endorsements and money coming in from those who like what’s happening in Jacksonville now and want to see more of it.
Crooms, as one would expect from a former Mayoral candidate, has been a strident critic of Curry, calling him a “racist bully” among other things in 2018.
On Friday, he asserted that his candidacy for Mayor had served its purpose, and that he’s ready to move to Council and do legislative work.
“This is a marathon not a sprint. Lenny Curry has spent nearly a million since I’ve been an active candidate. With a million more committed we’ve done our job as a campaign. We don’t beat up on hit dogs,” Crooms said.
“This is about the whole city of Jacksonville and the State of Florida. We will need the flexibility of City Council as we build on the candidates from the People’s Movement in Florida and the United States. This is about 2019-2020. What idea has Freeman put forth before filing? We’ve already won on ours now we’re going to focus on the legislative work for 2019-2020,” Crooms asserted.
Crooms did not indicate whether he would support another mayoral candidate, though Council members Anna Brosche and Garrett Dennis (both staunch Curry critics) seem to be exploring runs.
Brosche has engaged political consultants and seems poised for an official filing before the deadline (Jan. 11 at noon). Dennis (who hasn’t filed for Council re-election) talks like a candidate for mayor, and has been meeting with potential donors.
We hear, meanwhile, that a prominent Democrat may yet file for Brosche’s former seat, further complicating the math ahead of what could be a May runoff if no candidate gets a clear majority on the March ballot.