Jacksonville Bold for 11.8.23: Baker breaks for Trump

High aerial photo Jacksonville FL
Jessica Baker 'threw an elbow at the dumbass (Ron DeSantis).'

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mucking around in a future House Speaker race has had immediate consequences, as revealed during the Florida GOP’s “Freedom Summit” this past weekend.

Rep. Jessica Baker of Jacksonville was one of the Republicans from the Legislature who decided to back Donald Trump over the Governor in the 2024 Republican Primary.

Jessica Baker throws elbows at ‘dumbass’ Ron DeSantis.

“As instability grows around the world and economic uncertainty takes root here at home, folks across my district tell me constantly they want to see President Donald Trump back in the White House and Gov. Ron DeSantis back on the job here in Florida, finishing the work he promised to do less than a year ago,” Baker said in a written statement, which Marc Caputo of The Messenger reported first.

One person in Baker’s orbit noted being glad Baker “threw an elbow back at that dumbass” by endorsing Trump, an indication that inside the canned quote, there is some spice after all.

Some context: People in the Governor’s orbit mobilized against Baker’s bid to be House Speaker in 2028. They backed Jennifer Canady of Polk County.

Now the tables have turned. Elections have consequences, as the saying goes.

Good luck to anyone in Baker’s district hoping to see any appropriations over the next three years. But this defection is the latest sign that Jacksonville Republicans lean Trump over DeSantis.

Recall that former Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes is now running the Florida operation of the Trump campaign.

Then, recall the prominent role in yet another cycle that Susie Wiles has with the national operation.

The calculus behind the flipped Baker endorsement, which accompanied six other Republicans who had pledged to DeSantis moving to Trump last weekend, is rooted in the belief that DeSantis’ campaign is effectively doomed.

The logic is that voters have tested DeSantis, as seen by his strong showing in the polls earlier this year but have moved on.

“Nobody has gone down like he has and made a return like Lazarus,” went one New Testament metaphor.

While Rep. Kiyan Michael, whose endorsement from DeSantis was pivotal to getting through a tough primary last year, is still very vocal in her loyalty to the Governor, it’s not at all a sure thing that DeSantis is favored over Trump locally, at least according to some recent polling.

 

Meanwhile, with the Duval Republicans slated for yet another debate watch party Wednesday night (this one at Sneakers Sports Grille at Jacksonville Beach), supporters of Baker and Michael, as well as Trump and DeSantis, can discuss these developments in real time, starting at 7:30 p.m.

— Breitbart boomlet —

Another challenger may be emerging to Primary Rep. John Rutherford.

And this one is a blogger.

Per Semafor, Breitbart’s Matt Boyle is encouraged to jump into the race in the 5th Congressional District by personages including Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.

“I’ve had a lot of people calling me asking me to do it. I’m definitely hearing them out. ” Boyle said during an appearance on Gorka’s podcast. “It’s a huge decision. I don’t know if I would do that next year.”

Steve Bannon is grooming Matt Boyle to Primary John Rutherford. Image via Nordiske Mediedager/Flickr.

“UltraMAGA Matt Boyle will be the next Congressman from Florida,” Bannon told Semafor. “Boyle has been with President Trump from the early days and gets the America First Movement like few others.”

If Boyle jumps in, he will be the second protest candidate opposing the former three-term Sheriff, who upset the hard right by balking against and helping to block Jim Jordan’s bid for House Speaker.

Mara Macie, who has run before, is already in.

— Appointments —

Gov. DeSantis is appointing two residents to regional boards.

Nicholas Binder heads to the St. Augustine Port, Waterway, and Beach District Board of Commissioners.

He is a former professional engineer for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, a current member of the City of St. Augustine Beach Code Enforcement Board, and a former member of the City of St. Augustine Beach Charter Review Committee.

Michael Hingst heads to the Clay County Utility Authority.

A current software developer for Pioneering Evolution, LLC, Hingst is also a veteran of the United States Navy, with his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the United States Naval Academy.

— Free kill —

A new bill filing from Sen. Clay Yarborough may lead to legislative change next year.

SB 248 would repeal a law dating back to 1990 that, as First Coast News notes, prevents families from suing for medical malpractice if their loved one who died was over the age of 25, had no children under 25 and was not married.

“At the end of the day, the reason I’m pushing this is because it shouldn’t matter if someone is 25 or 24 or 26, and it shouldn’t matter if they were married or have children,” Yarborough told FCN. “What’s the value we put on life? One individual’s life shouldn’t be held in higher regard than another individual.”

Clay Yarborough seeks to repeal a law dating back to 1900.

Yarborough, who served in the House before getting elected to the Senate last year, noted that a problem with legislation like this historically is that it gets stalled out in the legislative process.

“Today, you don’t have any access to the courts. And previously, when we’ve taken up these kinds of bills, they’ve passed the House, but not the Senate, or there’s been interest on one side but not the other,” Yarborough said. “So, this may not be completely where some out there may want it to be, but it’s still opening up a path that doesn’t exist today under current law.”

Two related bills have been filed in the House so far, but at least at this writing, there is no identical bill to Yarborough’s.

McCloud moves —

Cody McCloud is taking his talents to one of the top lobbying shops in the state.

The former Press Secretary to Gov. Ron DeSantis is joining The Fiorentino Group as a principal in the firm’s Tallahassee office, where he will use his experience in media relations, political campaigns, and legislative affairs to serve the firm’s clients.

“We are excited to welcome Cody to our firm,” said TFG founder and President Marty Fiorentino. “His experience working inside state government at the highest levels, along with his strong political background, give him tremendous bandwidth in Florida’s complex policymaking process. Cody’s dedication, strong character and exceptional talent will be an asset to our firm and our clients for years to come.”

The Fiorentino Group makes a solid hire with Cody McCloud.

McCloud most recently worked for the Republican Party of Florida, where he served as State Political Director and the primary liaison between RPOF and the 2022 statewide campaigns for DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson. He also assisted with several key congressional races throughout the state and was the lead organizer of two of the most successful events in RPOF history, including the 2022 Sunshine Summit.

McCloud previously worked as the Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and as DeSantis’ Press Secretary, where he staffed and traveled with the Governor throughout his first two and a half years in office. Before the DeSantis era, McCloud worked at a Tallahassee-area lobbying firm. He began his political career as a Session intern with The Fiorentino Group.

Unanimous selection —

In Jacksonville’s latest illustration of political recurrence, a former City Council President and 2019 mayoral candidate is just one vote and eight days away from confirmation as the city’s Chief Financial Officer.

Anna Lopez Brosche, who lost her mayoral challenge to Lenny Curry four years ago, cleared the Rules Committee Monday by a 5-0 vote, setting the stage for a vote by the whole Council Nov. 14.

Anna Lopez Brosche is just days away from a vote to make her Jax’s general counsel.

Suppose the nomination of Brosche clears the whole Council. She will have succeeded where previous nominations of former Republican City Council members to major posts by Democratic Mayor Donna Deegan have failed.

Al Ferraro withdrew his nomination to head Neighborhoods this year, and then came Randy DeFoor’s subsequent withdrawal from consideration to lead the Office of General Counsel.

Brosche, now a Democrat, endorsed Deegan in the mayoral race a day before the General Election. At the time, she cited Deegan refusing to privatize the local utility JEA while crediting the former newscaster for running a more positive campaign than defeated Republican Daniel Davis.

Brosche’s selection for the position was announced earlier this year. Still, she could not take the job formally until October due to pre-existing commitments with her private-sector employer. She is currently the acting head of the Finance and Administration Department.

“I’ve spent my entire 30-plus year career in the accounting profession, covering roles in accounting, auditing, administration and relationship management. I bring unique experience to this role in having served on the city council, particularly serving multiple years on the finance committee and as its chair, which will help me be a better service to Mayor Deegan, as well as you and your city council colleagues,” Brosche told the committee Monday.

Her nomination was advanced without any discussion among the committee members, none of whom served when Brosche was on the City Council. The unanimous selection means that the full Council could pass it without discussion, as it will likely be on the Consent Agenda — unless someone pulls it for an individual vote.

— Party pooper —

In an increasingly partisan Jacksonville, a former Democratic City Council President is ready to surpass party lines.

Eric Smith wants Deegan to back his push to remove party affiliation indications from municipal election ballots.

“We can do this by amending our existing policy that requires candidates for mayor and city council to identify themselves with a letter D, R or I in parentheses on the official ballots. How can a candidate speak openly as an individual in a so-called nonpartisan election while publicly having to state their party affiliation and presumed loyalty?”

Eric Smith calls on Donna Deegan to take partisanship out of municipal election ballots.

Smith argues that by “taking the significant step of dropping political party identification in local elections, we can open the door for more open debate on actual local issues” and “create a forum for candidates to speak honestly about their own positions on these issues.”

Smith’s proposal comes as even nominally non-partisan races, like two of 2022’s Duval County School Board contests, were swung by the political machine of Gov. DeSantis, which was at a high point last year. Deegan, a capital-D Democrat who has interfaced with the state and national parties as a candidate and an elected official, may not be an exponent for this proposal.

And it’s even more likely the supermajority GOP City Council wouldn’t be on board.

But it’s food for thought, nonetheless.

Chris Hand column —

Most columnists in the Jacksonville market need more direct experience working in city government; Chris Hand is not one of them.

Hand has begun a series of 55 thoughts about 55 years of consolidated Jacksonville, and as the old song goes, the first edition has five on it.

Here are the two most compelling thoughts from where we sit.

Chris Hand knows how things are done in Jacksonville politics.

Hand takes issue with the no-bid contract for federal lobbying services the Deegan administration gave to Langton Associates, headed up by a campaign supporter of the Mayor.

“This kind of City Hall story can develop momentum and frustrate a mayoral administration for weeks, even months. The good news is that the problem is fixable by replacing the no-bid award with a competitive procurement process like the one used to engage state lobbyists. Given Mayor Deegan’s stated goal and what I believe is a sincere desire to change the City Hall culture, the administration should not spend more time or energy defending this contract. I recommend they put the requested services out to bid and move attention back to the mayor’s key priorities.”

Hand looks somewhat more favorably on the common-sense decision Deegan made to reverse the quixotic choice from her predecessor as Mayor to leave the U.S. Conference of Mayors (Lenny Curry thought it was too liberal and too Democratic for his brand).

“Jacksonville has much to gain from working closely with other cities and counties in Florida and around the nation. Mayor Deegan’s decision to participate in the U.S. Conference of Mayors will put the city in an even better position to realize those benefits,” Hand noted.

Railroaded —

A local act’s old bass song beckoned listeners to “C’mon, ride that train.” Yet The Quad City DJs probably never imagined the eco-friendly ride that JAXPORT would choo-choo-choose in 2023.

On tap: what is being called a “new environmentally friendly locomotive” that will “soon service the Jacksonville Port Authority’s (JAXPORT’s) Talleyrand Marine Terminal.”

Say hello to Jacksonville’s ‘new environmentally friendly locomotive.’

“The transportation and logistics industries are continuously making improvements toward cleaner and greener methods to move cargo,” said JAXPORT Chief Commercial Officer Robert Peek. “As part of our strategic plan, we have incorporated eco-friendly infrastructure at our terminals and support our port partner’s sustainability goals that are enhancing the global supply chain.”

Expect to see it by the end of 2025.

“The unit is one of eight locomotives nationwide being converted from diesel to battery-powered through funding provided by Kansas-based Watco Rail Services and a U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grant,” JAXPORT notes.

“This is a big deal for us and a big deal for the community,” said Watco Assistant Vice President Curtis Sloan. “Over 20 years, this will save nearly 800,000 gallons of diesel fuel and prevent over 70,000 tons of emissions.”

—Computer love —

Goodbye, COJ.net.

Hello, Jacksonville.Gov.

That’s one major takeaway from a web address migration that Mayor Deegan’s office pushed through this week.

“It’s a new day in our city,” said Mayor Deegan. “So, we felt it was time to refresh Jacksonville’s website in order to give citizens the best experience possible. To that end, we worked hard to modernize it and make it more intuitive so that visitors can quickly and efficiently find the website itself, as well as the information they are searching for. We are well on our way to having one of the best city websites in the country, and I hope everyone will be as happy with the result as I am.”

COJ gets rebranded, but the song remains the same.

“The fact that we built such a beautiful and engaging website with existing city resources is a significant cost savings for taxpayers,” said Wanyonyi Kendrick, Chief Information Officer for the City of Jacksonville. “We will continue to innovate over time, with a transparency dashboard and AI chatbot as the next pieces of functionality to be implemented, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.”

For those who prefer the previous URL, don’t worry. The migration includes an automatic redirect.

The new homepage includes flash video, links to entities like the Mayor’s Office and the City Council and initiatives like the “Get Covered Jax” drive to help locals navigate the challenges of the health insurance marketplace.

There’s still room for improvement: Let’s hope further upgrades include a somewhat less cumbersome system for streaming City Council meetings than exists now.

Bids sought —

The Jacksonville Daily Record first reported on the bid process for potential renovations of the Jaguars’ home stadium and deadlines are quickly approaching, including one this week.

In just 19 days, the Jaguars will accept bids for surveying and subsurface utility engineering, notes Karen Mathis. It will offer a map with schematics for necessary improvements and easements. The pre-bid conference is on Thursday.

Open bidding starts for the Jaguars’ stadium remodel.

Dec. 2 is the deadline for pre-construction services, which include architecture and engineering proposals that include structural, electrical and security components. No pre-bid conference is scheduled.

The Jaguars want project management and consulting services bids on the same day. Regarding those components, a pre-bid conference is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Interested in getting in on this action? Contact Impact Management’s Mike Lopez at 704-975-3812 or by email at [email protected].

— Back to work —

The NFL truly is a week-to-week league.

As the Jaguars were resting during the team’s bye week, the rest of the AFC was reshuffling in the race for the playoffs.

Thanks to losses by the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, the Jaguars now stand in third in the AFC standings, with a game in hand. Several of the other contenders have yet to reach their bye week.

If the playoffs began this week, the Jaguars would host the Cleveland Browns, a team they will face on Dec. 10.

As of this week, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are the top seed in the AFC and will get the first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens are the second seed, then the Jaguars. The Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Browns, and Bengals would round out the AFC playoff picture.

The Jaguars are playing it one week at a time.

The Buffalo Bills are on the outside looking in. This is significant for the Jaguars because Jacksonville owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills as a result of the Jags’ win in London, so if the Bills turn things around over the last half of the season, the tiebreaker could come into play for seeding purposes.

The same is true of the Steelers, currently the fifth seed. The Jaguars hold the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh after beating the Steelers before the bye week. In consecutive weeks, the Jaguars will face three of the AFC’s contenders in the season’s final nine games. Jacksonville hosts Cincinnati on Monday Night Football on Dec. 4, then the trip to Cleveland followed by a home game against the Baltimore Ravens. If the Jaguars beat all three teams, it would give Jacksonville the tiebreaker over each of them, leaving only the Chiefs with the edge on the Jaguars.

Three straight wins in December would also help the Jaguars’ overall record and put them in a good position for a high seed and another AFC South championship.

The Jaguars would be assured of at least one home playoff game as a division champion. That’s good for the team and even more significant for the business side of the Jaguars. Hosting playoff games creates in-person moments for fans to connect with a player or the team. Before Doug Pederson’s arrival, Jacksonville had only one home playoff game in the 21st century.

There will likely be at least one in consecutive years for the first time since the days of Tom Coughlin, Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell and the rest.

At least that’s the way it looks right now.

At this point last year, the Jaguars were 2-6, and nobody thought they would make the playoffs.

It truly is a week-to-week league.

Staff Reports


2 comments

  • Nebraska Granny's

    November 8, 2023 at 7:10 pm

    You say that DeSantis can’t come back from so called political death like Lazarus came back from actual death. You forget who’s in charge here, the one who actually brought Lazarus back from the dead. He’s God, He can do anything He wants. Trump, despite his accomplishments in office, is too old, is a bully, and spends a lot of time mocking his Republican opponents with childish nicknames. His denizens do the same telling his opponents that they might as well drop out, it’s hopeless. That is leadership I have no respect for and does not befit the Leader of the Free World. The accusations against him in court, whether true or not, have damaged his reputation. The election, like it or not, would be all about Trump and not about the issues the people care about like open borders and the economy. Trump needs to step aside and pass the torch to a new, younger generation of Americans, like Ron DeSantis and Nicky Halley. P.S. Never say never when it comes to baseball or politics🇺🇸✝️

  • Rick Whitaker

    November 8, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    so you believe somebody came back from death, wow how stupid can you get? you mentioned your concern for open borders, what would jesus think about that? hypocrite, go back to church and pray for yourself. while you’re there, be sure and leave some cash.

Comments are closed.


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