- Aaron Bean
- Angie Nixon
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- Travis Hutson
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The end is nigh!
A wild 2022 Primary campaign is coming to a close: Bold breaks down a few of Northeast Florida’s most compelling races.
With a raft of open seats (and other political moves) this year, competition is not just at the top of the ballot, but down it as well (way down, in some cases).
Represented are state Senate contests, one for an open seat and another where a veteran politician finds himself in an unexpected Primary fight.
And the House? Yep. They’re here too, including the most brutal battles in Republican Primaries.
We also have local action. And as those paying attention are aware, even school board races this year have people playing for keeps.
Mr. Bean goes to Washington?
He wasn’t the first candidate announced for the 4th Congressional District, but when Fernandina Beach Sen. Aaron Bean decided to pull that trigger, the campaign (arguably) became his to lose. The outgoing President Pro Tem of the Senate, known as gregarious and charismatic, could expect to have the backing of the state and national Republican establishments.
A St. Pete Polls survey of likely Republican voters in the district showed more than 59% favor Bean for the Republican nomination, while 16% chose Erick Aguilar and around 6% went with Jon Chuba to win the Primary.
Among the 16% of respondents who already cast their vote-by-mail ballots by Aug. 4, nearly 62% say they voted for Bean. Just over 15% already put in their vote for Aguilar and around 6% have voted for Chuba.
The survey was conducted for Florida Politics and included responses from 312 voters reached Aug. 4. Results were weighted for age, race, gender and media market based on the active voter population of the newly drawn CD 4. Pollsters reported a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points. The district includes Nassau, Clay and Duval counties, areas north and west of the St. Johns River. Donald Trump carried the area by seven points in 2020. Gov. Ron DeSantis won it by five points in 2018.
Aguilar, a Navy veteran and businessman, is continuing his effort that began with another Primary challenge to incumbent Rep. John Rutherford under the old CD 4 lines.
Aguilar built up quite a campaign war chest, but how he went about that came under scrutiny. WinRed banned Aguilar for sending out fake fundraisers supposedly from prominent Republicans including DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, as first reported by POLITICO.
Chuba, a health insurance contract analyst, is in the mix as well, but hasn’t been able to catch on in polling or fundraising.
Who’s the fraud?
The battle to replace term-limited Audrey Gibson in the Senate District 5 Democratic Primary has been fierce, but momentum is shifting the way of state Rep. Tracie Davis, at least as far as fundraising is concerned.
In the week ending Aug. 5, Davis raised more than $150,000 between her campaign account and her political committee, Together We Stand. Trial lawyers invested heavily, giving the third-term Democrat a boost.
Meanwhile, her opponent has struggled. Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Gaffney raised a lot of money before Davis was able to fundraise (legislators can’t fundraise during Session). During the week ending Aug. 5, he collected just $17,700 in donations between his campaign account and the supportive Friends of Reggie Gaffney political committee. He has roughly $60,000 for the final week.
Gaffney has a secondary political committee, the Committee to Revive Florida, which had been largely dormant for most of the cycle, but had $23,500 of donations parked therein, with the most recent donation being in April.
The committee was finally activated this week with a hard-hitting mail piece calling Davis a “fraud,” saying that “in seven years (Davis has) never filed legislation protecting women’s rights over their own bodies.” (Davis was elected in 2016, of course, meaning that she wasn’t in office for seven years.)
Davis, of course, has hit back, saying that Gaffney is “basically a Republican” in mail pieces. The question in this contest, where both Davis and Gaffney are trying to appeal not just to voters who have seen them before, but to those in unfamiliar territory after redistricting, boils down to this: Will Davis’ late push make up for Gaffney’s strong start?
Remarkably, there is a second live Senate Primary in St. Johns County, where incumbent Travis Hutson is spending his own money to repel a challenge from political newcomer Gerry James.
Hutson hasn’t gotten less than 60% support in any General Election in years, steamrolling Democrats with ease. But despite James’ relatively slight campaign budget (he raised less than $50K this campaign and spent it as he went), Hutson put $90,000 of his own money in the week ending Aug. 5.
James, a Ponte Vedra resident, has an interesting life story. He’s wrestled and golfed professionally, and he’s running to the right of “RINO” Hutson.
The stiffer-than-expected Primary explains, perhaps, the oddly phrased endorsement of Hutson from DeSantis earlier this year, a seeming ad hoc announcement at a local news conference.
“Some of my people ask me, ‘Hey, Travis Hutson’s running. He wants you to endorse him,’ so I said I will endorse him. So, I’m endorsing you for Senate,” DeSantis said in July in Putnam County.
Nixon’s the one
Democratic State Rep. Angie Nixon was moved from HD 14 to HD 13 through the magic of redistricting, but the Primary gods graced her with a challenger who didn’t mount a competitive campaign.
Unlike in 2020, when Nixon defeated former Rep. Kim Daniels in the HD 14 Primary, she hasn’t had to spend much so far. As of Aug. 5, Nixon still had more than $51,000 cash on hand, after spending a little more than $20,000. Nixon did a few mail pieces but has had to do little else.
Nixon’s opponent, Realtor Delaine Smith, is a friend of Daniels, but doesn’t seem to have her campaign moxie. Smith self-funded $12,000, raised $450, and according to the last report she filed through July 29, only spent the $1,781 needed to qualify in June.
HD 14’s Primary is closed, with third-party candidate LaCiara Masline running in the General Election. Her campaign somehow is $1,500 in the red.
With Nixon running in HD 13, the door was open for Daniels to run again in HD 14. But to be nominated, Daniels will have to go through a crowded Primary field.
With days to go in the campaign, she still has resources to deploy, with nearly $47,000 in her campaign account. Daniels, a preacher by trade, has largely self-funded, pouring $88,400 into the campaign.
How Daniels spends this money, or if she does, will be worth watching.
Daniels is not the only candidate in the field with elected experience. Jacksonville City Council member Garrett Dennis, the establishment pick who has scored most meaningful endorsements, won election in 2015 and 2019 in Jacksonville’s Westside.
Going into the stretch run, he has some money for the final push. Dennis has just under $11,000 in his campaign account, and nearly $34,000 in his political committee, Forward Progress.
Mincy Pollock, backed by the JAX Chamber’s political committee, faces an uphill battle, with roughly $14,500 in his campaign account and under $3,000 in his political committee, All Things Common.
And a fourth candidate, Iris Hinton, raised just $1,801 this cycle. She paid her $1,781 qualifying fee with that.
A write-in candidate has closed this Primary, which is a potentially meaningful distinction here.
In 2018, Daniels was able to win an open Primary to defend her seat, with Republicans and others crossing over for her. In 2020, with only Democrats eligible, Daniels’ strident brand of social conservatism became a liability.
In a four-way Primary, however, it will be interesting to see if Daniels can be stopped.
In the Black
By nature of being Duval County Republican Party Chair, Dean Black could expect a base line of support and name recognition when he announced for House District 15, the confines of which include northern and western areas of Duval County. The district also has all of Nassau County, though, and Black faces Yulee’s Emily Nunez, a military veteran and retirement planning counselor, in a closed HD 15 GOP Primary.
However, Black solidified his position in Nassau in May, with a spring brunch that sported a host committee that included a dozen of the most influential people in the county.
Black raised nearly $150,000 and added a loan of $100,000 to his campaign kitty, while his political committee True Conservatives added $36,000 of fundraising since June. His campaign had nearly $87,700 on hand as of Aug. 5, while the committee had nearly $114,000, buttressed by a $25,000 contribution Aug. 2 from the Florida Foundation for Liberty, incoming House Speaker Paul Renner’s committee.
Nunez, meanwhile, reported fewer than $4,000 in contributions each reporting period since her campaign formed. She had around $19,500 for the final weeks of the Primary, raising close to $43,800 over the course of the campaign.
She has endorsements from former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, state Rep. Anthony Sabatini and former U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, but those endorsements didn’t help in closing the fundraising gap with Black.
The GOP Primary battle in House District 16 has seen twists and turns, with two veteran politicians seemingly leading the way, until Gov. DeSantis made his preference known.
The Governor’s endorsement changed the game, giving political newcomer Kiyan Michael a platform and money against two candidates steeped in establishment connections.
Headed into the homestretch of the campaign, Michael is finding traction with donors right on time for the Aug. 23 Republican Primary for the Duval County seat in the statehouse, after a campaign dominated by stronger fundraising from her opponents, both White male political veterans.
During the week ending Aug. 5, Michael reported raising $54,000 between her campaign account and the supportive Friends of Kiyan Michael political committee. The Safety Net Hospital Alliance gave $1,000 to her campaign account, while other donors with statewide profiles gave even bigger sums to her committee account.
One particularly significant donation was from ICI Homes of Daytona Beach, which gave the Michael committee $10,000. ICI Homes is owned by Mori Hosseini, who chairs the University of Florida Board of Trustees.
Michael has a television ad up spotlighting the DeSantis endorsement, one funded by a previous $50,000 donation from the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee.
The leading fundraiser in the field is still Jacksonville Beach City Council member Chet Stokes, the establishment choice in the race before DeSantis went with Michael. Stokes, the general manager of the Marsh Landing Country Club, has aggressively self-funded, adding a quarter-million dollars of his own. He still has $225,000 to spend as of this writing.
Former Rep. Lake Ray, a political veteran from the western part of the district, represented the former House District 12 for four terms. Donations were slow for him in the week ending Aug. 5, with just over $5,000 raised between his political committee, A Stronger Florida for Us, and his campaign account. After spending roughly $40,000 that week on media, he has roughly $110,000 on hand.
Only Republicans can vote in this race, as two write-in candidates qualified and closed the Primary, creating an interesting battle of a DeSantis-backed candidate against two more establishment figures.
Jessica Baker, an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 7th Circuit running for House District 17, enjoys a solid financial advantage, with nearly $195,000 cash on hand through Aug. 5 between her campaign account and her political committee, Friends of Jessica Baker.
She raised just over $6,000 in the week, with $5,000 coming from accounts connected to the agriculture industry. Meanwhile, she continues to spend heavily, deploying more than $55,000 from the two accounts in the same week, with most of the money spent on paid media.
Baker has raised more than $570,000 for her campaign and has collected the bulk of establishment endorsements in this race.
Baker’s opponent, Christina Meredith, has had a tough time getting traction.
Between her Fostering American Leadership political committee and her campaign account, Meredith had a little more than $22,000 on hand as of Aug. 5, after raising just $1,870 that week between the two accounts and spending just over $5,000 total in that week.
This is a closed Primary also, with Democrat Michael Anderson awaiting in the General Election.
In the Jacksonville Sheriff’s race, one thing is almost certain: it won’t be decided Aug. 23.
With five candidates in the field, that’s the reality reflected in the latest poll from the University of North Florida, which shows Republican TK Waters and Democrat Lakesha Burton with 41% and 39%. That’s enough to make the runoff, not enough to close the deal Tuesday.
From there, what happens?
DeSantis endorsed Waters, which cleared the field. It allowed Waters to run in the summer at a more leisurely pace than his opponents. The main benefit is that Waters will have money to spend — something no Democratic nominee will be able to match.
As of this writing, he has over $1 million cash on hand, four times the money of Lakesha Burton, his nearest competitor.
Waters’ team isn’t expecting him to win outright in August, but they are expecting Burton’s opponents to cut into her support. Ken Jefferson has run before and has name recognition — after years as agency spox and on broadcast television. However, many believe Burton could top out below 30%, well below the UNF poll. Time will tell.
Burton drew a lot of GOP financial support before the DeSantis endorsement, but in the wake of the Governor’s support and the enforced partisan nature of the home stretch of the campaign, it remains to be seen how many sustaining donors there will be when she needs them down the road.
Good news for fans of property tax increases and more money for public schools.
New polling shows Duval County School District seems successful in an essentially unopposed push to raise property taxes by 1 mill for the next four years.
The referendum on the August ballot is poised to pass with nearly 60% of the vote, per an internal survey by political consultant Tim Baker. Even Republicans, by a slender 45/43 margin, are on Board, a good sign for the measure.
Democrats, predictably, aren’t a tough sell, with over 70% support in the survey. NPA voters also back the tax, with 63% support and 21% opposition.
Public polling, meanwhile, shows a somewhat narrower road for passage. The new University of North Florida survey released Wednesday shows the proposal passing, but with just 51% of the vote, hampered by Republican resistance.
The Duval County School Board estimates this could give them $82 million per annum in new cash flow, which could be used to pay veteran teachers and upgrade arts and athletics facilities.
This will be the second school tax referendum in recent years. A referendum in 2020 for a new half-cent sales tax for school improvements in Duval County got through, but not without delay.
A push for that referendum in 2019 failed because charter schools weren’t guaranteed their per-pupil share. But once that obstacle was removed by state law demanding a charter carveout, the school tax sailed to approval, with 67% of the vote in November 2020.
The latest round of University of North Florida polling of the Jacksonville mayoral race suggests that it’s still wide-open, even though a familiar name still leads.
Democrat Donna Deegan’s 32% support gives her another clear lead in polling. The former television journalist has yet to be seriously challenged for primacy amid the crowded field.
Other names seem to struggle for traction, with only two reaching double digits: Pre-candidate Daniel Davis and state Sen. Audrey Gibson were the only two in the field north of 10%.
“We’re still seven months out and this list of candidates will undoubtedly change as we get closer to the mayoral race in 2023,” said Binder, as reported first by WJXT. “For now, at least, Donna Deegan is the clear front-runner with a 20-point lead.”
The Duval County School Board race between April Carney and Elizabeth Andersen, nominally non-partisan, has become one of the most fiercely competitive contests anywhere on the ballot in Northeast Florida.
On the heels of Carney offering inconclusive/nonexistent answers to the question of whether she was in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, a failure of messaging amplified by the Duval County Democratic Party, Carney ally Quisha King is now on the attack against Andersen, blasting her for saying the right-wing reform group Moms4Liberty practices tokenism.
— Quisha King aka Keisha King (@ImQuishaK) August 13, 2022
King blasted Andersen as “a Racist school board member in Duval County @andersen4dcps who called me another Black mom ‘Tokens’ and because we stand up for our kids and work with Moms 4 Liberty.”
King linked to a RedState article, which featured video footage of Andersen addressing a forum in March.
“So, we know that these folks are absolutely on a phone call speed dial basis with our legislators to move legislation forward in the videos or in the images that Dan shared with you, my opponents and both of them or all of it, she’s pretty high level with local Moms for Liberty. So, we have Quisha King — April Carney is my opponent — Tia Bess … and they often will sort of parade her out as a token person because everyone is doing harmful things to children with special needs, and that’s to push that agenda.”
DeSantis endorsed Carney in this race, and education unions are backing the incumbent Andersen, in what has become a down-ballot battle to watch, as it gives real indication to how invested Jacksonville residents are in the culture wars that have become central to educational policy under DeSantis.
For her part, Andersen says the whole story is manufactured, to distract from where April Carney might have been on Jan. 6, 2021.
“This is nothing more than a desperate, last minute smear campaign intended to deflect from my opponent’s radical and extreme politics which have no place on our Duval school board. My years of child advocacy and community action speaks for itself- the real question is my opponent’s dishonesty over her whereabouts on Jan. 6 and what that says about her decision-making.”
Nick of time
The political committee associated with the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce has finally weighed in as early voting continues in the District 7 City Council election, backing Democrat Nahshon Nicks in a crowded field.
Nicks ran three years ago, losing to incumbent Gaffney, but scored the nod here over a field that includes Reggie Gaffney, Jr., who is running to take his father’s Council seat.
“Nahshon is passionate about developing downtown and making sure everyone in our community has the opportunity to succeed,” JAXBIZ Board Chair Abel Harding said. “He has a fresh perspective and energy that will serve our community well on the City Council.”
Unless one candidate gets a majority Tuesday, the top two candidates will face off in November to begin an abbreviated term, as the seat will again be open in the 2023 City Elections.
Personal becomes political
Nassau County Commissioner Aaron Bell went into his re-election campaign with momentum. He stuck his neck out opposing the Riverstone Properties 85-foot towers proposal, which opens the county to continued Bert Harris Act litigation.
The vote carried 3-2 and was the first salient issue of the campaign. Navy veteran and locally known entertainer Hupp Huppmann drew a distinction with Bell’s combative posture when he launched his own campaign for the open Republican Primary in County Commission District 2.
Huppmann’s a previous general manager of The Palace Saloon, owns and operates entertainment services company HUPP LLC, and was a part of the Foar From Home cross-ocean rowing effort raising money to combat veteran suicide.
District 2 covers the south end of Amelia Island and the southeast portion of the eastern mainland of Nassau County.
Bell resigned as chair of the County Commission at the Commission’s first meeting following his arrest.
The intervention of an independent political action committee into the race, like its involvement in another County Commission campaign, led to a back-and-forth in public over who’s really backing which campaign and why. Huppmann is pursuing action with the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections regarding the controversy.
Huppman benefited from at least two positive mail pieces — one from the Nassau County firefighters union, one from a local political committee.
In response, Bell spent more than $10,300 with Drummond Press of Jacksonville on July 25, so far the single biggest expenditure by either campaign. He also posted several videos online explaining his policy positions on development, gun rights and the county’s future.
Huppmann later spent nearly $7,200 with The Whitson Group of Jacksonville for campaign advertising.
Wild West Nassau
Sleepy western Nassau County became home to one of the most heated County Commission races in Northeast Florida as newcomer Alyson McCullough and former Commissioner George Spicer try to unseat incumbent District 4 Commissioner Thomas Ford.
Like in the District 2 race, the debate over development represented by the Riverstone Properties tower proposal became the first big issue. McCullough took out an ad before the Commission vote, indicating Ford’s previous vote on tower restrictions shows he would vote with the developer again, which he did.
Ford said he couldn’t risk putting the county on the hook for millions if they lost the expected lawsuit.
Allegations later arose about whether a large corporation involved in Nassau County development was backing a new political action committee and whether that committee supports McCullough. She maintained she had no PAC endorsements.
Ford’s received a fair amount of developer and builder dollars so far, a. They elaborated his feeling about growth at a Nassau County Chamber of Commerce forum, saying rural preservation is a priority.
Of the three, Spicer’s put the most money into his campaign and spent the most. Going into the last two weeks, Spicer spent more than $38,500 of the $48,440 raised for his campaign so far. Ford spent the second-most with nearly $25,000 over the campaign of $40,450 raised, and McCullough’s spent around $15,100 of her $20,515.
Spicer is emphasizing his anti-tax credentials and his opposition to the ongoing development at Wildlight.
The winner will be decided in the Aug. 23 open Republican Primary.
Quiet — school’s in
In a year of highly politicized School Board campaigns across Florida, along with DeSantis putting the significant strength of his organization behind more than two dozen candidates, the Nassau County School Board races managed to fly under the radar.
In Nassau, there are two contested races — one that’s a matter of old faces, new places, and the other that’s an open seat.
Jamie Deonas lent his campaign $15,000 in January in his re-election effort to the Nassau County School Board, but the prospect of competing against that money didn’t deter Shannon Hogue or Rick Pavelock from putting up a challenge.
Deonas, the current District 3 member, is running in District 1. He won election and re-election the previous times without opposition.
Deonas has been one of the more vocal members of the Board regarding the need for a 1 mill property tax increase to help deal with the pressure put on the school district and its staff by the county’s extraordinary growth and high standard of living.
He had around $13,000 on hand compared to Hogue’s nearly $1,780. Pavlock was $83 in the red as of the latest campaign finance reports.
As an educator for more than 20 years, Hogue is currently the reading coach at Emma Love Hardee Elementary.
The Nassau Teachers’ Association (NTA) announced its endorsements in the Board’s two competitive Primaries recently, backing Hogue in District 1, while putting their support with former West Nassau High School Principal Curtis Gaus in District 3.
Gaus, Albert Wagner and David Dew are running for the open District 3 seat. Wagner, a former teacher at Yulee Elementary School, is presently the assistant principal at Windy Hill Elementary in Duval County. He came in third in a three-way race for Nassau County School Superintendent in 2020, drawing 10.2% of the vote. Current Superintendent Kathy Burns claimed 50.8% of the nearly 25,500 votes cast, followed by Dale Braddock, who received 38.8% of the vote.
Gaus, who left West Nassau in 2020, is the principal at Bronson Middle-High School in Levy County. Dew, a federal civil service employee at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, is a Yulee resident, graduate of Nassau schools and involved in community activities.
One of the players in the ongoing conflicts with the Port of Fernandina’s Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) removed himself from the equation, as Chris Ragucci sold his interest in Worldwide Terminals and Port operator Nassau Terminals to a partnership of Utah and New York firms. Into this new Pax Fernandina is a chance to give a new direction to the OHPA Board.
Commissioner Scott Hanna is mounting a re-election bid in District 3, while the seat is open in District 4.
Hanna first won election to the Port Authority in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Commissioner Adam Salzberg 50.6%-49.4%, a difference of 200 votes among the 16,140 cast. Hanna made Port transparency a central part of his 2018 campaign, and transparency issues were a problem between OHPA and the Port operator, Nassau Terminals during the Ragucci era.
Hanna lent his campaign $3,000 in May and spent more than that over the past months, leaving the campaign in the red by more than $1,400. He faces Justin Taylor in the open Republican Primary.
Taylor, a former Nassau County Commissioner, was recently named as one of Nassau County’s “40 under 40” by the local News-Leader and Nassau County Record newspapers. He left the County Commission to run for Supervisor of Elections in 2020. Janet Adkins won a close three-way race by 240 votes over Taylor. Stan Bethea came in third with 156 fewer votes than Taylor.
There are some tasks to accomplish first to improve the Port, he said in a campaign video.
He noted its founding as an eco-devo engine for the county, and that the Port should work with community partners to sustain growth. Taylor’s spent around $1,400 of his $2,050.
For District 4, it’s Nate Bell, Kyle Caswell and Ray Nelson, with Caswell yet to show any campaign finance activity so far. Bell spent around $645 of his $750, and Nelson spent more than $3,700 of his $5,750 going into the last weeks of the campaign.
Nelson, the terminal manager for Worldwide Terminals — which wholly owns Nassau Terminals — gave his campaign $5,000 in June and picked up a couple more contributions later, including from OHPA Chairman Danny Fullwood. Fullwood and current officeholder Carrol Franklin both endorsed Nelson in comments at the end of a recent Port Authority meeting.
Sen. Marco Rubio visited Jacksonville for a low-key visit to JAXPORT and a business roundtable involving Northeast Florida transportation and logistics leaders.
“I don’t know of any other port facility in America better positioned for the direction the 21st century is going than JAXPORT,” Rubio said. “What that’s going to mean economically for the state and Northeast Florida is phenomenal. So, it’s great to see that today.”
JAXPORT officials thanked Rubio for his support and emphasized the ongoing amount of trade at the Port.
“Cargo activity through our port, and through the private businesses represented today,” JAXPORT CEO Eric Green said, “supports 138,000 Florida jobs and more than $31 billion in annual economic output.”
JAXPORT manages more than 90% of the activity coming from Puerto Rico to the United States mainland, and representatives of the Port’s tenants that do business in Puerto Rico — Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, Crowley and Trailer Bridge — addressed the importance of that trade.
Trailer Bridge and JAXPORT recently agreed to an 18-year contract extension.
Single and looking
Flagler Health+ is, like many Floridians, looking for a partner. The health care enterprise is publicly exploring “joining a like-minded health system to help enhance local health care services and expand access to care in the communities in which it serves.”
Specifically, Flagler Health+ is looking for another organization with which to partner who shares ideals like patient-centric care, a community-first approach, team member support, building relationships with providers, and maintaining a welcoming environment.
“Today, we are making the decision, for the benefit of our community, to join with a like-minded health system to expand access to care,” Flagler Health+ Board of Trustees Chair Todd Neville said in a statement. “Our mission to provide high-quality health care to the communities we serve means we are constantly exploring ways to enhance our services. This ensures we are keeping our commitment to deliver the best care to those who rely on us.”
By going into the situation proactively, the hope is to provide Flagler with its best options going forward.
“We recognize changes in health care and the growth of our community demand that we do more and be more for the people we serve,” said Flagler Health+ CEO Carlton DeVooght. “Our commitment to our community-focused mission remains steadfast. Everything we do is driven by our dedication to our team members, our patients and this community, and we are excited about our future.”
The latest Surf ‘N Turf Series with the Durham Bulls (63-49) left the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp getting the horns. The Shrimp (61-51), who battled to the top of the International League East, lost five of six during their trip to North Carolina.
Despite all that, infielder Willians Astudillo — La Tortuga — won International League Player of the Week honors for going 12-for-23 with four home runs, 12 RBI and four runs scored.
Fortunately, the Shrimp are back in town and looking to turn things around in their move to secure the division’s playoff spot, two games back as of Wednesday.
Jacksonville brought out the bats while shutting down a hot Nashville Sounds team for a dominant 12-1 victory at the beginning of this week’s homestand Tuesday. They didn’t wait to get going, either.
“Bryan De La Cruz blasted a double to center and then scored when Brian Miller smacked a two-run home run off Nashville (66-45) starter Adrian Houser (L, 0-1) to put the Jumbo Shrimp ahead 2-0,” according to the MiLB.com recap. “In the following at-bat, Jerar Encarnacion walked and went to third on a pair of groundouts. In his first Triple-A at-bat, Troy Johnston launched a double that scored Encarnacion to push the Jacksonville lead to 3-0.”
The Sounds are the top team in the International League West and own the best record in the league overall. The series includes a doubleheader on Friday and no game on Saturday. Next week, the Shrimp sticks around for a series with the Norfolk Tides (51-60).