Alvin Brown campaign refutes Lenny Curry ‘Biggest Lie’ claim

curry brown update

Lenny Curry’s campaign was quick to get its message out about Alvin Brown’s first TV ad of his reelection campaign, telling us that the “He Cut His Own Pay” spot was “a blatantly dishonest commercial trying to hide the facts” regarding Brown having “raised taxes and fees” while his “his cuts to law enforcement have made the city dangerously unsafe.”

The Curry campaign called for the ad, paid for by Florida Democrats, which had “a disclaimer linking Alvin Brown to state Sen. Jeff Clemens and state Rep. Janet Cruz, from Palm Beach and Tampa respectively,” to be pulled off the air if the Florida Democrats had “any sense of propriety.”

That likely is not going to happen. When contacted, Dave Beattie of Hamilton Campaigns, senior advisor to the Brown campaign, responded that the response from Team Curry was expected.

“They want to nationalize, federalize, do anything but talk about the race in Jacksonville,” said Beattie, who added that their critiques “are not about improving the economy or the government of Jacksonville.”

When asked about the Curry side’s claim that the job cuts were in the Sheriff’s Office, Beattie refuted that, saying that “none of the jobs [referred to as] cut [in the ad] were public safety jobs.” The jobs that were cut were “political appointees”, he added.

Beattie was not surprised by the rapid-response critiques of the ad and its contention that Mayor Brown worked to “streamline city government.”

“It’s not surprising that they’d criticize the commercial. Curry is a former Republican Party Chair”, he said.

Beattie also provided some informational sheets buttressing the advert’s claims.

The ad features Jacksonville residents – ranging from common people in the street to local luminaries like real estate maven Toney Sleiman – extolling the virtues of the Mayor, who, as one of them put it, “you do what you say you’re going to do.”

The Sleiman cameo is especially interesting as Curry partisans have noticed Brown and Bill Bishop advertising on Sleiman properties, leading to some speculation that other resources will flow to Bishop to hurt Curry and function as a stalking horse for the Brown campaign.

The materials provided by Beattie offer concrete support for Brown’s claims, including substantiation of his cuts of his own salary, the elimination of “middle management positions” in city government (eliminations which, in the eyes of some supporters of his rivals in 2011, were politically motivated), and competitive bids for local stadium management contracts. As well, the support materials credit him for refinancing municipal debt and saving the city $11M, and for vetoing what was a controversial deal to spend $750,000 on courthouse furniture.

The support materials also extol Mayor Brown’s pension plan as offering significant savings for the city, though it is an open question what the final pension deal will look like at this point, given that City Council has yet to ratify the Police and Fire Pension Fund revisions of the deal, and also given that Bill Bishop, in an editorial in today’s Times-Union, reiterated his support of a state investigation of the pension deal with pointed language.

“There are no resources to restore necessary city services that have been seriously reduced over the past few years — services such as libraries, parks, and most importantly public safety,” writes Bishop, who adds that “[w]ithout either further reductions to existing low levels of services or significant tax increases, there is simply no funding available to hire additional police officers or firefighters that are desperately needed to refill their depleted ranks.”

Bishop adds that “The new proposal being introduced once again includes a time duration that exceeds state statutory limits. As one City Council member, I have no interest in aiding and abetting an illegal act. The current system threatens the financial health of the city and quite possibly the viability of the pension system itself.”

As well, the maverick Republican asserts that he is “asking Adkins and Ray to take up the very important task of reforming state pension law to stop the abuses and creative interpretations that got us into the current situation. The current mayor has spent nearly four years toying with this issue and coming up short on real, tangible solutions.”

Brown’s current ad extols his steadfast refusal to raise taxes, and he maintains, despite the Curry camp’s claims to the contrary, that he has drawn a line against tax increases – a position which Bishop has criticized as creating a climate of austerity.

The ad makes the claim that Mayor Brown has reduced the size of government, a trope that is essential to him making the case for his re-election with swing voters. With current public polling not expected to appear anytime soon, the open question for those not privy to internal polling data is how successful the Mayor’s messaging has been so far, and how far he has to go to make the sale for the re-elect.

Brown’s message has nothing to do with Senator Clemens and Representative Cruz, claimed the Brown side. The “3 Pack” in Primary ads is a way for Florida political parties to circumvent more linear funding mechanisms, allowing them to link candidates together in disclaimers that aren’t necessarily linked ideologically,  paying for messaging without doing it through the official campaign apparatus or PACs of the candidates. Clemens and Cruz are perceived to be to the left of Brown on many issues, including their support of Amendment 2 last election cycle.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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