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Ju'Coby Pittman [Photo: Dennis Ho/Folio Weekly]

Jax

Downtown money drives Jacksonville City Council run-off

Downtown money is playing both sides in this one.

The race in Jacksonville City Council District 8 is one of just five contests left to be decided in May.

Both candidates are counting on big checks from Downtown to close the deal.

Incumbent Ju’Coby Pittman, a Democrat appointed to the Jacksonville City Council by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2018, is launching a political committee for the stretch run.

Friends of Proven Leadership, instituted on the county level, will allow Pittman to boost her warchest for the stretch run against challenger Tameka Gaines Holly.

We called the committee, and a Lolita Hill affirmed she is “running the campaign,” that the committee is coordinating with the campaign, and that the committee “needs volunteers.”

Most political committees exist to facilitate donor generosity outside of the binds of contribution limits ($1,000 in a Jacksonville election). Rarely do those running the committees discuss volunteers.

Hill is not the campaign manager.

While it remains to be seen how the volunteer effort will play out, a look at Pittman’s fundraising suggests the kind of downtown donor buy-in that can make the difference.

Developer Toney Sleiman, who just offloaded the Jacksonville Landing to the city for multiples of book value, probably got all he needed from Pittman with Tuesday night’s vote.

TECO Energy, one of a few electric companies that lobbied up in Jacksonville during the recent “exploration of JEA’s value” that some saw as a sale push, maxed out to Pittman’s campaign account Mar. 1.

Tom Petway, the former JEA Board member who suggested privatization of the utility as he left the board, has also maxed out. As has his wife.

Other establishment donors (J.B. Coxwell, the dog tracks, and so on) backed Pittman in a crowded first election, and likely would appreciate a platform to double down.

Pittman, as of this writing, has roughly $30,000 in hard money, nearly doubling Holly’s holdings.

Holly, it turns out, also has a political committee: Transform Jax.

That account is empty as of this writing, but her campaign vows to utilize it.

Among Holly’s hard money donors: JAXBIZ, the Chamber‘s political committee; Peter Rummell, who generally is not opposite Petway money in an election; former Mayor John Peyton‘s Gate Petroleum.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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