The open question in Jacksonville: What is former City Council President, former state Representative and current Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce President Daniel Davis going to do with his massive fundraising haul?
Davis, a Westside Republican who many have talked up as a logical successor to current Mayor Lenny Curry, set the fundraising standard in Northeast Florida this cycle by starting off 2021 hot, raising $1.314 million in January from 72 contributions to his political committee, Building a Better Economy.
Davis built a donor class coalition that would be the envy of either local political party, bringing in six-figure checks from some of Jacksonville’s biggest names, including Gary Chartrand, Tom Petway, John Baker, JB Coxwell Contracting, and First Coast Energy.
Coming in at the $50,000 level: the Watchdog PAC, chaired now by James Blair, a former top staffer to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran; and Ed Burr.
Other donors of note came in with more modest donations, including Darnell Smith, Kent Stermon, Abel Harding, and Peter Rummell.
Florida Politics asked Davis on Wednesday night if he intends to open a campaign account for Mayor; he did not respond, despite an outgoing voicemail message assuring a timely reply.
Reasonable expectations are that Gov. Ron DeSantis could very well lean in for Davis. DeSantis picked Davis for the key St. Johns River Water Management Board in 2019, which would seem to reflect confidence from the current chief executive, who will want a Republican Mayor in place for the photo ops to come.
Assuming Davis for Mayor is a reality, he would be the second big name in what could be a large and diverse field.
Davis’ fellow Republican, City Council member Matt Carlucci, has already opened a campaign account and has been stumping for Mayor while serving as Finance Chair on the legislative body. There is no resign to run rule in Jacksonville.
Carlucci will look to dominate the moderate Republican wing, but one has to figure Davis will realize his road to the runoff in May 2023 would definitely run through the veteran Carlucci.
That is, if Davis were going to run for Mayor, having $1.31 million parked in a political committee would certainly help.
At this writing, Carlucci has yet to file his first month’s numbers. But he was a prodigious fundraiser in his 2019 City Council race, raising more than $307,000 and garnering nearly 70% of the vote citywide.