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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry takes questions after his re-election victory speech. [A.G. Gancarski: Photo]

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Email insights: Florida Democrats slam Lenny Curry ‘culture of corruption’

Democrats did not field an opponent to Mayor Curry this year.

The Florida Democratic Party was dormant during the Jacksonville mayoral race earlier this year, with no Democrat running in the race.

But now that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has re-elected, the Dems are back on the attack.

The latest salvo: an email blast decrying the “culture of corruption” in City Hall, focusing on a Florida Times-Union report about a senior staffer pressuring an outgoing City Councilman.

In a sign of how marginalized Democrats are at the moment, both the Mayor and the Councilman are Republicans.

The claim: “In a bombshell report, the Jacksonville Times-Union [sic] today revealed that Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes allegedly threatened to retaliate against Republican City Councilman Matt Schellenberg for speaking out against a shady deal with developers. After Schellenberg expressed ‘disappointment’ about the deal, the Mayor’s team cryptically threatened to block Schellenberg’s priorities for the rest of his term.”

The “cryptic” threat: a text from Hughes, who said “I hope Matt gets everything he needs before Jun. 30.”

“What did Schellenberg really do wrong in the eyes of Hughes and Team Curry? Simply express regret that the administration had failed to uncover “$11 million in financial judgments” against the main investor behind a project backed by the administration,” the FDP asserts.

“Even worse, Hughes is set to get a big promotion. In two months, Hughes will become the City of Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer — an even more powerful perch from which he’ll be able to double down on City Hall’s policy of abusing taxpayer money, silencing dissent — and defending crooked deals,” the FDP predicts.

“Mayor Curry has created a culture of intimidation and corruption in City Hall that rewards special interests — and silences everyone else,” said Duval County Democratic Chair Daniel Henry.

“Today’s report makes clear we need to elect independent voices who aren’t afraid to stand up to the Mayor and his cronies and put the people of Jacksonville first. We need Councilmembers who will safeguard taxpayer money and fight for clean government — not be another rubber stamp for the Mayor,” Henry asserted.

Indeed, the Democrats’ last stand for the next four years is in five remaining City Council races. The hope is to keep the GOP below a supermajority.

The party is guaranteed victory in two of those contests: the battles in Districts 8 and 10 are between two Democrats.

At-Large Councilman Tommy Hazouri is a good bet to get re-elected also, but he’s a Curry ally.

Meanwhile, former Democratic chair Lisa King is up against incumbent Republican Terrance Freeman in another at-large contest. And in a district race, Curry Republican Randy DeFoor faces off with Democrat Sunny Gettinger.

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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