On the same day that Lenny Curry scored the pivotal NEFAR endorsement in the Jacksonville Mayor Race, he received an endorsement every bit as important from JAXBIZ, the non-profit, non-partisan political organization affiliated with the influential JAX Chamber.
The JAXBIZ endorsement, arguably one of the most coveted organizational endorsements in Jacksonville politics, came after the customary due diligence from the organization. As Matt Galnor claimed in the press release this evening, “JAXBIZ researched the records and platforms of each of the three major candidates, and then met individually this week with Curry, Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop and Mayor Alvin Brown. After careful consideration, the board felt that inadequate proposed solutions to the pension crisis, an overall inability to manage the city’s finances and other missed leadership opportunities warranted a change in the mayor’s office. The board determined Lenny Curry was the best candidate.”
This endorsement and the stated rationale behind this can be interpreted as a quiet but unmistakable rebuke of the other two candidates’ approach to what the Curry campaign has called the “pension disaster”. The incumbent Mayor has a great deal of political capital invested in his pension plan, and his team has strenuously worked to explain the plan and make the sale to the general public and local media. Bill Bishop, meanwhile, has messaged about the pension crisis consistently during his campaign, recently advancing a proposal for a half cent sales tax increase to help defray the pension obligation.
Neither the Mayor’s plan nor the former Council President’s proposal satisfied the objections of the JAX Chamber’s political arm.
JAXBIZ Chair Mike Hightower, who is one of the most powerful Republicans in Jacksonville historically, and who recently resigned from the JEA Board, claimed in the JAXBIZ release that “Lenny Curry is committed to a continued low-tax, business-friendly climate for the community and has the leadership ability and vision to move our city forward. There is no more important election than that of Jacksonville’s mayor and JAXBIZ’s decision is a vote for the future of Jacksonville and confidence in the leadership Lenny will provide as the City’s CEO.”
Interestingly, Mike Hightower’s wife Sue will be one of the many prominent Republican women at Curry’s Women’s Coalition Fundraising Luncheon next week.
We have contacted the Curry campaign for comment on this endorsement, and when it is provided, this post will be updated.