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Redistricting continues in Tallahassee, and new House maps could change the trajectory of some politicians’ careers.
They may have decisions to make soon.
In one map, Rep. Angie Nixon is in HD 13, with her address just north of the line dividing it from her current HD 14. Another map keeps Nixon in her current district.
She isn’t worried: “I’ve been working and organizing in the Jacksonville community for over 10 years. Whatever district I am drawn into, I will proudly work and fight for those residents as I have always done.”
Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis, a filed Democratic candidate in HD 13, was moved to HD 12 in both proposed maps.
HD 12 will be more Republican-friendly, closing Dennis’ path to Tallahassee. He would line up against Rep. Wyman Duggan in either map, running in a district drawn to favor a Republican.
Dennis isn’t worried either: “These are just the first versions of maps. At the end of the day, I’m confident that I will be running in a district that does not have an incumbent.”
Time will tell, but HD 12 could be a political problem for several people, especially given Duggan’s position in Jacksonville politics as a well-regarded lobbyist and an increasingly pivotal legislator in Tallahassee.
That district could span the St. Johns River and connect the Westside and Mandarin in a Buckman Bridge district.
A theoretical HD 12 field could also include Rogers Towers lawyer Adam Brandon, currently running in HD 16. Duggan is also at Rogers Towers, so one can assume that this will get worked out at one point.
Brandon will be a candidate this cycle, says a campaign spox.
Republican Lake Ray, running in the current HD 12, is slotted into HD 12 on one map and HD 13 in the other.
Ray, a political veteran, has seen this before.
“I haven’t had any time to give serious evaluation of the maps,” he said. “As you know, the maps are a work in progress; it will be interesting to see when they are finalized and accepted.”
These are only a few of the potential changes to the landscape ahead of 2022.
Potentially in play is also a new HD 15, decoupling the Jacksonville Beaches from Nassau County.
If that map prevails, Nassau moves with the rural Westside into that district, with the Beaches and Mayport potentially in a new HD 17.
Nothing is certain yet. And for politicians looking to start campaigns, that could be problematic. Even if they say it’s not.
A bill (SB 620) by Sen. Travis Hutson allowing businesses to sue cities and counties for ordinances that crimp their business cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee along partisan lines.
This was the bill’s first committee of reference, and it has two stops ahead.
Democrats caviled. Sen. Perry Thurston said it was a “solution in search of a problem.” And Sen. Audrey Gibson said it wasn’t Tallahassee’s position to “reign over communities.”
Republicans rallied in support.
“There are a lot of questions to be answered,” said Sen. Dennis Baxley. But to him, it’s a simple matter of “compensation.”
Sen. Jim Boyd described a business in his district impacted by local ordinances, saying it was an example of “out of control” and “un-American” policy moves.
Boyd did not name the business.
“We do preemptions all the time to protect the general public,” said Hutson. “There are things that local governments are doing that are hurting businesses.”
Hutson said locals could pass ordinances as they wished, but under his bill would be required to “make whole” those businesses that lost 25% or more of their revenue.
Companion legislation has been filed in the House but has yet to be heard by its first committee.
“At this time ….”
One rumor that isn’t going away — Sen. Audrey Gibson‘s next political move.
Some say she runs against U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in 2022. Others suggest a bid for Jacksonville Mayor in 2023.
When asked this week, Gibson did not shoot down those possibilities.
“At this time, I am focused on my legislative work and continuing service to my constituents for the upcoming Session,” the Senator said.
In a follow-up text about “after this time,” the Senator offered a voice message of laughter. Read into that what you will.
Gibson is term-limited this year. The Legislative Session ends in March, not too late to launch even a 2022 campaign. But Lawson dispatched candidates from Jacksonville in three straight elections; he would be tough to beat.
Of course, the new lines are a work in progress, so stay tuned.
The Senator may be watching the campaign of Donna Deegan, the only Democrat in the race for Mayor thus far, to see how she does. Deegan’s fundraising has been underwhelming so far — roughly $190,000 in a political committee. Her first campaign finance report is due later this month.
Rep. Cyndi Stevenson seeks state funding in 2022 for a desperately needed capital project at St. Augustine’s Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
Nearly $3.5 million is entreated for what the appropriations request calls “a significant renovation of Kramer Hall, an FSDB building that serves as a dormitory for students in the Blind Elementary School.
“Students in FSDB’s Blind Elementary School will reside in a safe, healthy environment conducive to appropriate education and living,” the request continues. “There will also be other classroom and office spaces.”
Current conditions are described as “fair to poor,” with a laundry list of serious renovation needs, including “brick and stucco, roof and foundation.”
“The HVAC system was installed in 1991 and is in poor condition with units that are beyond their useful life,” the ask continues.
The overall plan from the state Department of Education includes a recommendation to fund this project.
Tallahassee continues to weigh in on the Duval County Property Appraiser’s race, even during the last committee week before the 2022 Legislative Session.
Senate leadership endorsed state Rep. Jason Fischer for the seat Tuesday. These endorsements dropped a few weeks after the leadership of the Florida House offered their versions.
“I am proud to endorse Jason Fischer for Duval County Property Appraiser because he is a proven champion for Florida’s taxpayers,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “First Coast families deserve someone with Jason’s strong work ethic who is committed to Northeast Florida’s shared conservative values.”
Senate President-Designate Kathleen Passidomo also offered strong words of support.
“Jason Fischer is a principled leader and a steady defender of Florida taxpayers. I have confidence that he will lead the Duval County Property Appraisers office with diligence and integrity. He has my full support,” Passidomo asserted.
“Jason Fischer is a great and trusted friend of mine. I’m super excited about supporting him to become the next Duval County Property Appraiser,” asserted Sen. Ben Albritton. “He is one of the most thoughtful and hardworking folks I’ve ever met. I’m supportive of Jason all the way. Duval taxpayers will get a huge win with him!”
Fischer is the second candidate in the still-nascent race for Property Appraiser. Second-term City Council member Danny Becton, a Republican from Jacksonville’s Southside like Fischer, is also running.
As she continues to gear up for a potential 2023 mayoral race, Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Cumber draws on her national fundraising network.
Cumber held a Washington D.C. fundraiser Monday for her JAX First political committee, an event with many notable names on the host committee. Among them were former U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham of California; Jesse Panuccio, formerly of the Donald Trump Justice Department, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity under then-Gov. Rick Scott; and Brian McCormack, former Chief of Staff for former Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Cumber raised upward of $1.2 million through two official filings for her committee, second only to the committee of Daniel Davis, which has nearly $3 million on hand.
So far, fundraising has been slower for official candidates.
Amaro mulls the future
After decades as one of the region’s leading broadcasters, First Coast News legend Ken Amaro is leaving local airwaves. Instead of covering news, he may be making news in the years to come.
“A businessman approached me,” Amaro said. “He said he’d be willing to get some folks together.”
It’s not clear what he might run for, but Amaro would campaign as a reformer either way.
“I believe in public service. From what I see, public service, to some, has become self-service.”
TV journalists have not consistently won campaigns for public office in the Jacksonville market in recent years.
In 2010, former anchor Deborah Gianoulis lost a Senate campaign against John Thrasher. And in 2018, Donna Deegan fell short in a challenge to Rep. John Rutherford. Both were Democrats running in what were GOP-majority districts, though.
If Amaro were to run citywide, he would not have to deal with those kinds of partisan dynamics.
Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown had difficulties with lawyers during her first trial on fraud and related charges, but she may be better positioned in her upcoming retrial.
Rich Komando, the law partner of former Sen. Rob Bradley, is one of two attorneys of record in Brown’s defense. A criminal defense lawyer currently, Komando has also served as a prosecutor in Florida’s 4th Circuit.
Sandra K. Young, who has served as a public defender in that same circuit, is also on the case. She is a solo practitioner.
Brown was convicted in 2017 of a raft of charges related to her former One Door for Education charity, including conspiracy charges, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. Before those convictions, she served 12 terms in Congress.
Monthly rents were a good deal in Duval County decades ago, but no more: the average rental is over $1,350 a month.
And a new report from Yardi Matrix says Jacksonville is among the drivers of national growth.
“The great performance is not limited to large markets. Of 20 metros outside the top 30, 14 had double-digit year-over-year rent growth — led by the Southwest Florida Coast (29.1%), Jacksonville (21.7%) and Tucson (20.1%) — and every market was up by at least 7.3% year-over-year.”
The stats differentiate between “lifestyle renters” and “renters by necessity.” Lifestyle renters pay 25% more than last year, while renters by necessity pay 16.6% more on average.
Jacksonville isn’t alone here, of course. Tampa rents have gone up 25% year over year. And in Orlando, rents went up 2.5% in October alone.
Same old song
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before about the Jaguars.
Last Sunday against Atlanta, first-half turnovers and penalties by the Jags put them in an 11-point hole at the break. That deficit swelled to 18 points in the third quarter before Jacksonville rallied.
Alas, the result was the same: close, but no victory as Atlanta walked out with a 21-14 triumph.
It dropped the Jags to 2-9 overall and was their third straight loss since upsetting Buffalo on Nov. 7.
This season was always going to be about building a solid foundation for the future, and head coach Urban Meyer said he believes rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence continues to make solid progress.
Lawrence excelled against Atlanta when the Jags went to an up-tempo offense. It allowed him to use his athleticism and get into more of a rhythm.
“I think you can expect some more of it as we move forward,” Meyer said.
That was the style Lawrence ran while setting records at Clemson.
“I like tempo,” Lawrence said. “I think over the course of the season, we’ve started to realize that’s something we do well. I think we did a great job executing our fast-tempo plays today, so something we’ll keep working on. When the time is right, we’ll use it when we need it, but I do think we did a good job using it today.”
To put into perspective what this season has been like for Meyer, he was 83-9 during seven seasons at Ohio State. It took only 11 games in Jacksonville for him to reach nine losses.
It won’t get any easier in Jacksonville’s next game. The Jags will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to play the Rams.