Jacksonville completes its First Election Tuesday at 7 p.m., and the primary question is whether Mayor Lenny Curry‘s political machine hits any speed bumps.
I entered the arena unprepared 1 time.Only once. I was a kid maybe 10 years old & it was a bad experience I’ll never forget.But I learned from it.I’ve been preparing ever since.We came prepared & did the work. Vote tomorrow.Let’s finish what we started 4 years ago. #JaxOnTheRise
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) March 18, 2019
After Early Voting, there were definite signs for Curry. Republicans went into Election Day already winning the turnout battle.
Turnout is down less than 5 percent with Republicans over 2015, but 20 percent among Democrats. The electorate compared to 2015 is R+8.
Polling has shown Curry as high as 88 percent with Republicans, suggesting a clear path to 50 percent with just a smattering of Democrats and NPAs.
The open question: will this impact the races of favored Democrats on the Council, such as Joyce Morgan (up against anti-Curry Republican Bill Bishop for re-election) and Tommy Hazouri (facing a Democrat and a Republican on the ballot).
The endgame drama of the campaign, meanwhile, had less to do with the Mar. 19 ballot than what turned out to be a phony poll pushed to supporters of the Anna Brosche campaign from somewhere or other.
The fake Gravis survey showed Curry at just 50 percent, a potentially encouraging trend for those desirous of a runoff.
Brosche’s money quote: “With as much national attention as has been dedicated to exposing those responsible for spreading false propaganda to shape the outcome of elections, it is truly concerning and disheartening to learn that the same tactics are being deployed on a local level in Jacksonville.”
The real issue, however: the fake Gravis poll became a multiday story, spanning from Thursday evening (when Gravis contacted this outlet about the counterfeit) until Monday when Brosche spent the last day she could message to voters trying to get Attorney General Ashley Moody‘s attention.
Meanwhile, Curry was getting daps from his crew.
Endorsements from Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. The announcement of a Jacksonville fundraiser with VP Mike Pence.
Right now, a bet on Curry looks safe, and it wouldn’t surprise this observer to see a couple of more high-profile endorsements before 7 p.m.
The margin in the Mayor’s race is the central drama on the ballot.
In an R + 8 universe, it is difficult to imagine incumbents like Tax Collector Jim Overton, Property Appraiser Jerry Holland, and Sheriff Mike Williams losing.
It’s going to be a day for the political machine if the metrics prove predictive.
Victory has many fathers; defeat is an orphan.
We can imagine that many people will queue up to take credit for the Curry machine winning, but in reality, the inner circle is most dispositive.
Tim Baker. Brian Hughes. Sam Mousa.
People have posed the “why did he raise $5 million?” question.
The reason is simple. Because he can.
Unnamed donors kvetch and yet still cut the checks. Meanwhile, when given a plausible alternative: a former City Council President who stopped Curry from selling JEA, the donor base wasn’t deep enough.
The action tonight will be at the Hyatt Regency.
The winners’ parties will be the end of an era, the last hurrah for a generation of campaigners and political assumptions.
Who will rise up to replace these incumbencies?
How will the 2023 Mayoral field look? Sheriff Mike Williams is the odds-on favorite. But Councilman Garrett Dennis will likely be in play. And others, many others.
But, for now, it is 2019.
And while anything can happen when voters are in the polling places, the metrics suggest that the game doesn’t go to extra innings.