Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry‘s career in politics may continue beyond his final term as Jacksonville Mayor, he suggested Thursday.
Curry is so far two for two in elections, winning a competitive election in 2015 and a laugher in his 2019 reelection campaign.
“I’m looking forward to the upcoming political season. 2022 & 2023 are coming at us fast. I’m as rested, rejuvenated & ready to roll as ever. & I’ve been in the middle of some tough campaigns. Elections matter,” Curry tweeted. “I am older, wiser, more experienced and have more energy & stamina now than any campaign I’ve been in or apart of. Got into this with purpose many years ago and will see it through.”
Curry cannot run for Mayor again as he is term-limited, and it’s unclear what office might be open for him to run for once he’s out of office in July 2023, assuming he does opt for a next step in politics.
However, what’s clear is that the Mayor and his political machine are engaged. Curry is emerging from the pandemic as a Capital-R Republican after a period of downplayed partisanship notable for a former chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
He is playing in the Georgia Senate race, helming a fundraiser for Republican candidate Herschel Walker in Jacksonville Oct. 29. Co-hosting is Kent Stermon, the chief operating officer for Total Military Management and someone who has close political and personal ties to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
As Curry’s time in office winds down, there is nothing but a succession of election cycles until the end. A Special Election to fill the unexpired term of a former Jacksonville City Councilman kicks off the calendar Dec. 7, with a runoff for the top two finishers Feb. 22, unless one gets a majority in December.
From there, the 2022 statewide cycle will be at full force. Duval County has a significant Democratic plurality now, and that was reflected when Nikki Fried, Andrew Gillum, and Bill Nelson carried the county. Can Curry somehow drive a turnaround?
That remains to be seen. However, there is at least one candidate in the 2022 field with a direct connection to Curry World.
HD 12 Republican Jessica Baker, an Assistant State Attorney in the 7th Circuit, worked in the Mayor’s Office and was then appointed by Curry to the once-a-decade Charter Review Commission. Her husband, Tim Baker, is responsible for laying the groundwork for Curry’s victories at the ballot box throughout his term. Curry and many other Republicans aligned with him have already endorsed Baker in her Primary campaign against former Rep. Lake Ray.
The 2023 municipal elections offer yet more legacy shaping opportunity. The Mayor will back the campaign of Jax Chamber CEO Daniel Davis when it officially starts, and at least one key staffer is not ruling out a run for elected office in that cycle.
Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes is looking to buy a house and perhaps run in City Council District 14.
Noting that he’s “focused on continuing to ensure the success of Mayor Curry’s vision,” Hughes says he will “absolutely look for ways to continue to see Jacksonville remain on the great trail we’ve been blazing for years beyond his time in office.”
“It’s hard today to imagine that would be as an elected official, but I am a firm believer in never saying never,” Hughes said, noting that he’d been involved in Northeast Florida politics for more than a decade.
“Leading up to 2012, that includes working with a first-time candidate who won a race for Congress and is now our Governor,” Hughes noted. “Subsequently, that work has helped elect Mayor Curry and other local and state officials. I also helped pass two citywide referenda.”
In the wake of the 2015 campaign, the Curry/Baker/Hughes triumvirate was a subject of press fascination, with the political operation a departure from what Jacksonville had seen before. And all involved have been quick to describe it as a transformational dynamic.
“From the start of that race to today, the two of us and Lenny have become this sort of political entity,” Hughes told the Jacksonville Daily Record in 2016.
“When I want to go a direction, they get in the foxhole with me and go,” Curry effused in the same article.
Five years later, it is clear there is a direction. The biggest mystery, ironically, would be Curry’s next move. U.S. Rep. John Rutherford will have completed his fourth term in Washington in 2024, and Congress could be an option if Rutherford stands down. It could be a frustrating option for a leader with a CEO mindset, though.
If Curry has proven anything, however, it’s flexibility.
He made a play for the 2020 Republican National Convention as COVID-19 cases spiked in Jacksonville, a push ultimately scuttled by former President Donald Trump himself in an effort to “protect the American people.” Curry said Trump made the right call.
Once the 2020 election was over, Curry recalibrated to become the rare Republican Mayor willing to be photographed with a member of the Joe Biden administration, Vice President Kamala Harris, specifically, to spotlight COVID-19 relief.
“Before (Harris) left,” Curry recounted, “one of her associates asked me to wait outside. She wanted to say goodbye. (The Vice President) came out and chatted for about five minutes. And she said ‘I want you to know that the President knows you were here today and he appreciates us standing together for this important cause.’”
October 22, 2021 at 5:11 pm
And she said ‘I want you to know that the President knows you were here today and he appreciates us standing together for this important cause.’”
As opposed to when Obama came to town and you hung a gone fishin sign on your door. Welcome to Jax where only the only thing that gets recycled are the politicians.
October 22, 2021 at 6:40 pm
AG, if Lenny’s not too busy tooting his own horn maybe you could ask him why he let his boy Newby kill the police reform committee?
October 22, 2021 at 8:08 pm
If Mayor Curry were to put the statue back up on the column in Hemming Park, along with the plaques around it, that would go along way in him mending fences with real Southerners, who carry alot of weight come election time.
October 29, 2021 at 9:10 am
Keeping the Women’s Monument at Confederate Park is a great start for redemption amongst the Southern People, thanks
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