Jacksonville’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police on Thursday endorsed City Council candidate Nick Howland.
Howland, one of two Republicans in the field for the Special Election in At Large Group 3, was already endorsed by Sheriff Mike Williams and former Sheriff and current Congressman John Rutherford. This completes an effective sweep of law enforcement endorsements for Howland: Police brass backed him, and now the rank and file do, too.
“On behalf of the almost 4,000 law enforcement members of Jacksonville FOP Lodge 5-30 and their families, I am writing you to let you know you have earned the endorsement of our organization. Support of the rule of law and the men/women who are sworn to protect has been forgotten by many elected leaders. You have demonstrated to us through your knowledge of our issues and your core beliefs that you will put public safety first in Jacksonville,” wrote FOP head Steve Zona.
“You have served our country in the Navy and you have the business background necessary to be able to make the tough decisions we will all be facing. We look forward to helping you get elected to City Council,” Zona added.
Howland is one of four candidates and one of two Republicans in the race to fill the unexpired term of Tommy Hazouri, who passed away in September. Howland has stacked endorsements since getting in the race.
The police union endorsement was no real surprise, though it should be noted that the same union endorsed Democrat Tracye Polson, also in this At Large race, in her previous run for the state House in 2018. Clearly, that endorsement had a shelf life.
Though Howland has the establishment Republican lane on lock, the campaign likely will run through February and two separate citywide elections.
If no candidate wins a majority during the first balloting on Dec. 7, the top two finishers move on to a General Election on Feb. 22, regardless of party. Two Republicans could emerge from the First Election, or two Democrats, or one candidate from each party.
All candidates in the race must live in At Large Group 3, but voters can cast a ballot for whoever they want in both elections. There are no closed one-party Primaries during either election.
One other Republican, Howland “Howdy” Russell, is in the race. Additionally, two Democrats are running: Polson and James Jacobs.
The first campaign finance filings in this race are due Nov. 10, encompassing all fundraising through the end of October.