It appears that there will be a contested election for Jacksonville City Council President this upcoming Tuesday after all.
On Wednesday, Land Use and Zoning chair Danny Becton, a second-term Republican, announced his intention to run.
Becton will face off against Democrat Tommy Hazouri, a former Mayor who won an 18-0 vote in 2019 for Vice President of the Council.
Appearances are that Becton will try to draw on party loyalty, as fellow Republican Rory Diamond tweeted out Becton’s letter asking for pledged support.
However, it remains to be seen if that’s a viable play. Hazouri endorsed Republican Mayor Lenny Curry‘s reelection in 2019, and since then the Mayor has had no reason to abandon his willingness to work with the only former Mayor on Council.
The Mayor’s Office has held Becton at arms’ length, with limited exceptions, for going on five years.
Parties have gotten involved in leadership races, even recently.
Republican Anna Brosche in 2017 upset Democratic VP John Crescimbeni with both local parties playing in the race. However, her margin of support ultimately came from working a deal with four African-American Democrats to give them a majority on the Finance Committee.
And if comments made by at least one Council Republican are any indication, many of those who backed Hazouri for VP will stay with him on Tuesday.
Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber noted she “fully supported Tommy” and is still “committed to Tommy.”
That, she says, has “nothing to do with partisanship.”
“We are entering into a time when no one knows what’s going to happen,” Cumber said, regarding the city’s finances, the ongoing issues with COVID-19, and other major issues.
“People are hurting,” the first-term Southside Republican added. “This is not the time to play partisanship.”
Cumber, who won unopposed in 2019, isn’t sweating pressure from the local party.
“Having been in world of politics over 20 years … particularly on the local level, my constituents don’t care about party politics. They don’t have jobs right now,” Cumber said, adding that she believes “most of [her] colleagues feel the same way.”