Jacksonville Bold for 8.3.22: A last stand?

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Nikki Fried makes one last Duval push.

Fried’s last stand?

Nikki Fried plans one more campaign stop in Jacksonville before the Gubernatorial Primary.

But for all practical purposes, Tuesday’s “day of action” was the big final Duval push ahead of Aug. 23.

During her fifth stop of the day, Fried held a town hall in Murray Hill with CNN commentator Bakari Sellers.

The event was in a somewhat atypical setting for a campaign whistle-stop: The Walrus bar at Edgewood and Post, on the northern fringe of the perpetually up-and-coming Murray Hill neighborhood.

I am (at) The Walrus … koo kachoo. Image via A.G. Gancarski.

The crowd? Not everyone could get into the bar; a few dozen Fried supporters, mostly women, listened as Fried talked about issues ranging from cannabis (pro) to Ron DeSantis (against).

Some will recall that the 2018 Democratic nominee for Governor Andrew Gillum took a decisive vote in Duval four years ago ahead of his surprise nomination win.

Fried remembers that also. She also credits the Gillum campaign in the General Election, which didn’t prevail (obviously), for helping to drive the turnout she needed to win the Agriculture Commissioner race that November.

Are there parallels between Fried and Gillum’s last campaign? Maybe. But this is a different field. Gillum had a crowded Primary and had the left flank to himself in that field. Fried has one major opponent, and Tuesday’s town hall event didn’t see much Crist-bashing, essentially because Sellers didn’t want the event to gripe about Fried’s opponent.

The metrics are against Fried. Crist dominates in terms of endorsements, fundraising, and the other traditional markers of campaign strength. But for one evening in Jacksonville at least, her campaign felt like it had a fighting chance.

Twenty days left.

Bad bill

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford is no fan of the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.

Tuesday saw the Jacksonville Republican point out the bill as the latest example of how Democrats are “out of touch.”

One person’s Inflation Reduction Act is another’s ‘subsidy.’

“On the heels of spending $52 billion in federal funds to subsidize U.S. corporations that manufacture semiconductors, Democrat leaders in Congress are now pushing a bill, wrongly titled the ‘Inflation Reduction Plan,’ which would raise taxes on American businesses to provide $60 billion for new environmental justice funding and $80 billion in increased IRS funding, among other things. This expansion in federal spending fails to include meaningful reform to correct a broken system,” Rutherford contended.

“U.S. GDP has fallen for over two consecutive quarters, a textbook indicator that we have now entered a recession, and inflation continues to hit record highs. The average American family will spend almost $6,000 more this year to maintain the same quality of life. Yet, Democrats continue to push to spend more, raise taxes, and make energy more expensive. This is a path that can only lead to more inflation, slow economic growth, and corporate welfare,” Rutherford added.

Wannabe

Democrat Tracie Davis took a page from the Spice Girls’ playbook with a new mail piece from her “Together We Stand” political committee calling her Senate Primary opponent a Republican “wannabe.”

Davis and Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Gaffney are running for state Senate, and the closing argument for Davis has been that Gaffney is “basically a Republican.”

“Republicans stand with Gaffney,” the mailer contends.

“The same Republicans trying to undermine our sacred right to vote are backing Gaffney,” the mailer says, “ask yourself why.”

He said, she said?

Gaffney has mounted his own counterarguments caviling with Davis’ Democratic bona fides, but for Davis, this is a bit more personal, especially given Republicans have donated over $380,000 to Gaffney.

These contrast ads have been seen before from Davis in this Primary. It remains to be seen whether this one ends up on television.

Both candidates still have money to spend as the campaign goes negative down the stretch. Gaffney has nearly $175,000 between his campaign account and his political committee, while Davis has roughly $185,000 left to deploy, per the most recent accounting from the Florida Division of Elections.

One-sided

The House District 17 race continues to see one candidate winning the resource war.

7th Circuit State Attorney Jessica Baker continues to hold a substantial fundraising lead over Christina Meredith in the Republican Primary as the race enters August.

Jessica Baker takes the lead.

Meredith entered at the qualifying deadline in June, but with less than three weeks left, her campaign doesn’t have much left for the final stretch. Between her Fostering American Leadership political committee and her campaign account, Meredith had approximately $45,000 on hand through July 22.

Baker, an assistant state attorney in Florida’s 7th Circuit, enjoys a substantial financial advantage, with nearly $280,000 cash on hand through the same date between her campaign account and her political committee, Friends of Jessica Baker. Baker has a TV spot contrasting with “liberal” Meredith.

Don’t expect the Baker campaign to take its foot off the gas. Jessica Baker is already in the conversation as a future Speaker of the House, and a statement win in the Primary here wouldn’t hurt that buzz.

The winner of the Primary will face Democrat Michael Anderson in the General Election in this Southside Jacksonville district that includes the University of North Florida and surrounding areas.

Mike drop

Democrat Jimmy Peluso scored a name endorsement this week in his second run for the Jacksonville City Council, with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsing Monday.

Peluso is making his second run in the Westside’s City Council District 14. Republican Randy DeFoor isn’t running for re-election.

“Honored and thrilled to have the support of Mayor Mike Bloomberg for my City Council race in Jax. Visionary leaders are hard to come by, and I am humbled he believes in my race. After a solid fundraising month, I’m eager to serve my community in March,” Peluso tweeted.

In 2019, Democrat Sunny Gettinger advanced ahead of Peluso into the runoff. This time around, she’s not in the field either.

Peluso had $35,000+ raised in hard money in his first month, which drew on not only friends and family from around the country, but also former candidate Tracye Polson and Brandon Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned.

Pension pick

Former state Rep. Mia Jones is one week away from a spot on the Police and Fire Pension Board after the Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee approved her nomination this week.

Jones served in Tallahassee through 2016 and helmed the Agape Health Center on Jacksonville’s Westside.

Mia Jones is one step closer to a spot on the Police and Fire Pension Board.

Republican Sam Newby lauded Democrat Jones, saying she was his “best appointment” when he was Council President, and noting the deep personal history between her family and his.

Democrat Brenda Priestly Jackson also gushed: “You have a body of work that speaks to your commitment to our neighbors.”

The full City Council will vote to approve the nomination next Tuesday.

Slow going

Some long-awaited news dropped unexpectedly from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The agency is moving forward on a proposed rule that would mandate speed restrictions for vessels 35 to 65 feet long in certain speed restriction zones.

Small vessel collisions and the resulting right whale deaths in calving grounds off Northeast Florida spurred the agency to act.

“Collisions with vessels continue to impede North Atlantic right whale recovery,” said Janet Coit, the Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “This proposed action is necessary to stabilize the ongoing right whale population decline, in combination with other efforts to address right whale entanglement and vessel strikes in the U.S. and Canada.”

North Atlantic right whale Infinity and her calf, off Vilano Beach in February 2021. Image via Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fewer than 70 calving female North Atlantic right whales are believed to be alive. Scientists think there are fewer than 340 total North Atlantic right whales remaining.

The last recreational vessel strike occurred in February 2021, when the About Time, a 54-foot recreational vessel, slammed into a right whale calf at 20 knots, half a mile off St. Augustine Inlet.

The advocacy group Oceana released a report in July 2021 noting in their research that for all the good feelings about speed restriction zones, they only work when people observe the restrictions, which showed such zones off Southern states have the worst records for noncompliance, at more than 70% for Georgia and Florida calving grounds and more than 90% noncompliance between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Brunswick, Georgia.

Coffee clash

Starbucks patrons in Mandarin who wanted a hot cup of joe to start the workweek instead got a lesson in labor/management relations and the Fight for $15.

The Florida Times-Union reports that the unionized location on Ricky Road took a strike action upon opening Monday.

Starbucks Mandarin is on the business end of a union strike.

“We never opened the doors,” shift leader Mason Boykin said. “We’ve got a lot of partners outside, [and] we’ve had lots of community support, from some other unions and other organizations as well as customers.”

The T-U’s Alexandria Mansfield reported that non-union shops got $15 an hour, but union shops such as the Mandarin storefront did not and weren’t planned to get the raise until Aug. 29.

Negotiations are ongoing to end what Boykin calls an unfair labor practice by the parent corporation.

New money, new allegations

There’s some controversy in a Nassau County Commission race after a previously little-used Facebook page posted screengrabs showing the creation of a new political action committee in Fernandina Beach and alleging it’s involved with Alyson McCullough’s campaign in the open Republican Primary for District 4.

McCullough denied such involvement.

The Facebook group Front Porch Alliance connected some fundraising dots and a campaign image of questionable provenance to claim Rayonier is “the single largest investor in her campaign.”

Someone connected the dots in Alyson McCullough’s campaign. But does it mean anything?

Regardless, the new PAC, Vision Northeast Florida, appeared in June and received its first money on July 14. It recently spent its first $60,000 with a Maryland media firm, 1631 Digital.

Front Porch Alliance posted an image Tuesday morning of what appears to be a pro-McCullough mail piece that is “paid for by Vision Northeast Florida.”

Vision Northeast Florida’s Chair and Treasurer is Aldebaran Partners Managing Partner Stewart Nazzaro. Its registered agent is Clyde Davis, a former attorney for the Port of Fernandina’s Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA).

Vision Northeast Florida received its first $75,000 from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee funded by some of the most powerful corporations in the state, and its next $50,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund.

Floridians for a Stronger Democracy received $29,000 from Rayonier, a combined $203,750 from HCA Florida divisions and $25,000 from the Guidewell Group since Vision Northeast Florida’s founding. The Florida Prosperity Fund received $70,000 from Rayonier on June 24, $29,540 and on July 1; $25,000 from the Guidewell Group on June 28.

McCullough is running in a three-way Primary against incumbent Commissioner Thomas Ford and former Commissioner George Spicer.

Building with Clay

The Northeast Florida Builders Association has endorsed five local Clay County candidates, including three incumbents.

The Builders backed Betsy Condon and Rodney Herring for the County Commission. For the School Board, they sided with Ashley Gilhousen, Michele Hanson and Janice Kerekes.

“These candidates understand the importance of the construction industry and the fact that it helps drive the economic growth and success of Northeast Florida,” Clay Builders Council Chair Chris Dougherty said in a statement. “They will encourage smart growth and investment in Clay County, which will bring more jobs and further improve the lives of their fellow citizens.”

Builders are active in Clay County, not just in endorsements.

Herring is running in District 2 against Alexandra Compere, who put thousands of her own money into the campaign, in the Republican Primary. She’s brought in more than $34,600 compared to Herring’s $4,150, but Compere has spent less than $3,000, and Herring has spent less than $2,000 so far.

Leroy Edwards is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Condon is the Commission Vice Chair and incumbent in District 4. She’s in an open Republican Primary against Dale Carter. Condon has the cash advantage here, bringing in $25,250 and spending more than $6,300. Carter has $6,000 in contributions and spent more than $4,600.

Kerkes is behind financially in her School Board re-election bid, second in raised funds and money spent in the three-way race, though she’s first in in-kind contributions with nearly $6,000. She’s raised $15,780 and spent less than $960 for the District 1 race. Erin Skipper raised around $24,000 and spent close to $14,000, while Charles Kirk raised more than $9,500 and spent approximately $8,100.

Hanson, meanwhile, is challenging incumbent District 4 School Board member Tina Bullock. Hanson posted more than $14,100 in contributions, but she’s spent more than $12,800. Bullock brought in around $7,900 and spent less than $1,000.

For the School Board’s District 5 seat, Gilhousen raised close to 12,100 while spending around $2,500. She’s receiving a challenge from Gerald Beasley, who raised more than $3,100 and spent more than $1,600.

Crowded at the top

Your Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are back atop the International League East division, though they’ve got some companions. Jacksonville shares top honors at the moment with the Durham Bulls and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The Shrimp (55-45) claimed their first win in a six-game homestand against West division foe Memphis with a 5-2 victory Tuesday night. It was a slow, 1-0 affair with the advantage to the Redbirds (54-45) when Jacksonville outfielder Peyton Burdick got all of a pitch in the third inning for a grand slam over the left field wall.

At this level, pro baseball can be one of extreme career swings, borne out recently by the travels of pitcher Jake Fishman. One of the more interesting players in the minors, Fishman’s been a quality reliever for the Shrimp and got his call up recently to the Miami Marlins.

Fishman pitched three and a third innings, giving up one run on four hits against the New York Mets. He’s since been designated for assignment. Easy come, easy go.

The Shrimp are in town against Memphis through Sunday, then hit the road to Durham for another key set of games in the Surf ‘n Turf Series.

Staff Reports


2 comments

  • Joe Corsin

    August 3, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies!!!!

  • Just a comment

    August 3, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    Call it what you will that chess piece is raining upon you.

Comments are closed.


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