Jacksonville Bold for 6.8.22: ‘My man there’

Wooden figures of people, one of them is red
One sheriff gets the job; another gets the endorsement.

‘That’s my man there.’

If you’re a fan of races for Sheriff, Jacksonville has your hookup for the coming year.

City Council members set the Special Election for the office, opening Friday after the retirement of Mike Williams, for an August Primary. If there’s a need for a runoff — highly likely given six candidates are in the race — that’s in November when Gov. Ron DeSantis is on the ballot.

Last time, DeSantis didn’t win Duval County. But you can sure bet he will be working to fix that problem this year.

DeSantis appointed Undersheriff Pat Ivey as the interim Sheriff, but the actual play was the endorsement, which went to TK Waters, the pick of the Republican donor class and a name many close to him wanted to see as the interim appointment.

Pat Ivey has the job, but not the endorsement.

Waters is retiring soon, a resign-to-run style move that will allow him to consolidate the right-wing. Can he get 50% in August? Doubtful.

But DeSantis will ensure he gets that number in November.

“That’s my man there,” DeSantis said of Waters Monday at a news conference in Southeast Duval County.

As soon as the Special Election is over, the regular election cycle happens, with a March “First Election” and the General Election in May. Expect Waters and Daniel Davis or whoever the Republican is who makes the runoff to be co-branded yet again.

Then, around this time next year, the consultants will stop invoicing.

DeSantis and Waters will see a lot of each other, which is one advantage the soon-to-be-retiring chief has. Only one other Republican is running: that’s another advantage, especially against four Democrats. Like Waters, Lakesha Burton has raised more than $1 million for this run and has not scared off Democratic opponents.

The exit of Mike Williams is already in the rearview mirror; the Governor refused to condemn the charter violation, and there seemed to be little appetite on the City Council Monday to give hot quotes. There’s no road to claw back salary or benefits.

The election is what matters going forward, and that was how it was going to be all along.

Democratic dilemma

For the first time since 2011, two Democrats are running for Jacksonville mayor. It’s been longer since two Democrats have run who were taken seriously as potential winners.

State Sen. Audrey Gibson joined Donna Deegan in the mayoral field Tuesday, a move that we have predicted for some time. Gibson was talking about running for mayor months back in Tallahassee, and we’d heard about donor calls.

Audrey Gibson is in it to win it. Image via A.G. Gancarski.

Neither gives fascinating quotes about the other one (right now), but that doesn’t mean there’s no drama. Deegan knows that Gibson complicates her path to unifying Democrats behind her. Of course, Gibson wouldn’t be in the race if she believed Deegan could do that.

Gibson looked like a potential candidate for Congress if the Democratic-performing Duval-only district the House passed made the final map. With Tony Hill running for Congress, it became clear it was Mayor or nothing.

The March ballot will be crowded, and Gibson is a proven electoral winner in many of the precincts where Deegan may struggle. Meanwhile, Democrats, who had no one to vote for in 2019 when Lenny Curry waltzed to re-election, now have an actual choice on the ballot four years later.

Gibson vs. guns

Before the campaign, the think piece: Gibson, in an article last weekend (“No more waiting for the gun lobby to agree with us”), outlined potential local solutions to the gun violence crisis.

One potential addition under the Gibson administration — a focused community effort.

Audrey Gibson launches her campaign with a think piece on gun violence.

“As a growing, diverse city, we need a standing safety task force that meets publicly and televised. It should include truant officers, the school board police chief, the Sheriff or a designee, FDLE representatives, parents, gun owner activists, gun reduction activists, youth and student representatives, mental health professionals, and clergy members, among others that could be added for a true cross-section of stakeholders,” Gibson wrote. “Next, we need long-range city and law enforcement budget planning for prevention and intervention that incorporates mental health and prevention components and a grant writer that also focuses on return on investment of taxpayer dollars.”

“We already know prevention works, so no worries there,” she added.

Read the whole thing as published in the Florida Times-Union.


Senate President Wilton Simpson is on television with his first ad for his campaign for Agriculture Commissioner.

According to Ad Impact, Simpson spent just over $3,100 in the local Jacksonville market with this ad, an introductory spot first pushed elsewhere in the state.

The ad’s opening line: “Most politicians are show ponies, but conservative Wilton Simpson is a workhorse.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

The video features clips of Simpson next to farm equipment, rolling through rural Florida in a GMC Sierra, chatting with a few county sheriffs and closing out with some shots of him shaking hands with farmers.

“When socialist Democrats threatened the Second Amendment, Wilton Simpson defended our gun rights. When Planned Parenthood radicals push for taxpayer-funded abortions, Wilton Simpson shut them down. When limousine liberals called for a state income tax, Wilton Simpson stopped them cold. When RINO Republicans backed amnesty for illegals, Wilton Simpson fought to ban sanctuary cities and secure our border,” the ad says.

“That’s why Wilton Simpson is the only candidate for Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture who has the complete and total endorsement of President Trump. There are always show ponies on the ballot but take President Trump’s advice. Choose conservative workhorse Wilton Simpson for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.”

Incumbent Nikki Fried is not running for re-election. Simpson is a heavy favorite to win the office this year.

Fried jazz

Like jazz bars? Like the Democratic gubernatorial primary? Combine those two pursuits Friday in San Marco.

Fried will be at the Breezy Jazz House in San Marco. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Does Nikki Fried get jazz hands? Image via Jason Delgado.

Fried’s Jacksonville Friday, which presumably will include other stops besides the evening shindig, will make this the second straight week where a Democratic gubernatorial candidate closed the week in Duval.

Congressman Charlie Crist visited with the Black Veterans Chamber of Commerce and Democrats at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall last Friday while in town, collecting the endorsement of former state Sen. Tony Hill and continuing his domination when it comes to endorsements from name Democrats in Jacksonville.

Brockwell out

The field in House District 16 closed Monday — somewhat — with Jacksonville Beach lawyer Heath Brockwell withdrawing and endorsing Chet Stokes, a Jacksonville Beach City Council member, in what is now a three-way race for the GOP nomination.

A former rival endorses Chet Stokes. Image via campaign.

“As a 25-year resident of the Beaches and business owner in our district, I know how important it is to have strong, dependable, and truly local representation. I have decided to withdraw from the House District 16 race and endorse fellow Republican Chet Stokes. I hope my Beaches neighbors will join me in voting for Chet on August 23,” Brockwell asserted.

“I’d like to thank Heath for his support and endorsement as our campaign momentum grows,” Stokes affirmed.

Stokes launched his campaign this spring and reported first-month fundraising of nearly $260,000 in April. Jacksonville Beach Mayor Chris Hoffman, Jacksonville Beach City Council members Dan Janson and Cory Nichols, Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond, and St. Johns County Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker each cut checks.

Former state Rep. Lake Ray had switched to the race in late April. Between his campaign account and his political committee, he had nearly $150,000 on hand.

Angel MomKiyan Michael is also in the field, and she had a little more than $15,000 on hand as of the April report.

We still await May fundraising from Stokes and the other two candidates in the field. All fundraising reports are due by Friday.

Republicans are likely to win this one, potentially in August. No Democrat has filed to run. But if no competition manifests, the August vote will be an open Primary, allowing non-Republicans to vote.

Book club

As suggested in a tweet last weekend, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry continues to expand his intellectual interests.

“Read René Girard,” recommended the second-term Republican Friday night.

Girard, a 20th-century French theorist, would seem to be an obscure reference point. There weren’t many attaboys for the Mayor’s invocation of this Gallic touchstone of literary theory.

And perhaps that’s too bad.

Girard pioneered literary concepts that are valuable reference points for this moment of crisis in Jacksonville history, including the idea of the “mimetic crisis,” where desire is created out of imitation of someone else’s desire, rather than a genuine personal investment.

The idea of the “scapegoat” was a Girardian construct, and it also seems readily applicable to politics. Just as desire focuses on an object, so too does opprobrium, with a cascade of hatred cast at some unlucky object of scorn before it is destroyed and then forgotten as the next collective scapegoat emerges.

René Girard: Who Is this guy, anyway?

The ritualization of sacrifice, another tenet of contemporary politics, was a hallmark of Girard’s “Violence and the Sacred.”

We’ve come a long way, baby, from Mayor John Peyton’s book club, with texts for children. Few are the youngsters who are ready for French deconstruction theory, after all.

Curry, a former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, rejected a run for a new Republican-leaning Congressional seat that includes western Duval, and perhaps his reading list explains what gave him pause.

Better to run one campaign too few than one campaign too many, especially given a Republican base that turns yesterday’s heroes into today’s RINO “scapegoats.”


Flagler Health+ is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new CAIR Center, to help at-risk youth and adults in crisis or urgent need of access to mental and behavioral health services.

CAIR (“Crisis, Assessment, Intervention and Referral”) Center aims to be a supportive, compassionate place to access crisis assessment, brief interventions, referral services, and care coordination support with individuals to set up a long-term connection with a mental health provider.

CAIR seeks to be a lifeline for mental health.

The event — which will also feature a short program of speakers — is tomorrow at 10 a.m. CAIR Center at Flagler Health+, 300 Health Park Blvd., Suite 1008, St. Augustine. Afterward is an opportunity to tour the facility. Learn more at www.flaglerhealth.org.

Bicentennial Bash

Jacksonville’s two centuries of history will be celebrated in the June sunshine this weekend in the heart of Downtown.

James Weldon Johnson Park will host the celebration this Saturday; a can’t miss event. As the Jax200 splash page suggests, a city “only gets one Bicentennial.”

Celebrating 200 years of Jacksonville history.

Events will last all day, including music from morning to night, mural painting, and historical character re-enactments. The opening ceremony, which includes a mayoral proclamation, is at 3 p.m., followed by a parade.

As Jacksonville looks forward to a future of growth and change, it’s helpful to consider — and celebrate — where the city has been.

Code switch

The “904” will be joined by the “324,” reports First Coast News.

Can you hear me now, Jacksonville? Image via Florida Memory.

In response to continued growth in Northeast Florida, the new area code will serve as an overlay for the current numeric.

“As Florida’s fourth originally assigned area code, the 904 area code has a long history of adapting to Florida’s growth,” said Public Service Commission Chair Andrew Fay. “This approved relief was the first of its kind for Jacksonville as the 324 area code overlay is designed to meet the increased demand for new numbers in this thriving area.”

The 904 previously included areas that became the 352 and 386 area codes, but this will be the first overlapping area code for the region.

Staff Reports


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn