Jacksonville Bold for 7.10.24: Kos for concern?

Experience matters!

Who understands Northeast Florida best?

Is it an out-of-state blog or a newsletter (and website) deeply steeped in the mechanics of in-state political intrigue?

If you’re reading this, you likely have a cognitive bias.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t counterarguments, as the left-leaning blog The Daily Kos demonstrated Sunday with a bizarre attempt to attack last week’s Jacksonville Bold.

Taking issue with last week’s entry that suggested Rep. Kim Daniels would be difficult to beat in the August HD 14 Primary — especially since she has two Primary challengers — the Kos frothed up a piece with more words than genuine insight and some insults for this publication’s principals.

“These two authors, Peter Schorsch and A.G. Gancarski, have their ears to the ground in Florida and Florida is Republican, so of course their sources are too. They are the most gifted Republican whisperers,” writes someone called ZenTrainer.

The author takes issue with us by pointing out that most contributions to political newcomer Therese Wakefield-Gamble come from outside the district.

Bold’s reporting on contributions to political newcomer Therese Wakefield-Gamble has ruffled some progressive feathers. Image via candidate.

“They are warning folks that Therese Gamble’s money comes from all over the country. In their minds, that’s worse than Kim Daniels? Whose money comes from Republicans? I think it’s funny because I tell candidates that I write for to watch their Act Blue account; they will know the Daily Kos donations because they will indeed come from ‘all over the country.’”

I’m unsure what “write for” candidates means in this context.

We brought up the challenger’s fundraising to make a fundamental point — with early voting starting soon, there’s not much indication that she has local support.

Certainly not on the level of the last person to defeat Daniels in an election — state Rep. Angie Nixon, whose presence in the community and Democratic circles locally and statewide was a given before she launched her campaign.

“The Aug. 20 Primary in Florida is like a Special Election; there are no Republicans in this race and they don’t run one. Why should they? They have Kim Daniels. This is one of those districts where the primary IS the general.”

The Primary would have been open if write-in Briana Hughes hadn’t filed. As usual, the write-in isn’t saying why she’s in the race.

To be clear, Bold doesn’t endorse candidates.

What we do, however, is look at the structural issues in campaigns and offer informed analysis.

If we saw a viable Primary challenge, we would spotlight that — because people read that kind of thing.

But we’re not in the business of delusional ruminations about politics that readers might prefer over the politics in this state.

It’s not impossible to knock off an incumbent in a Primary.

However, conditions must be favorable — fundraising, endorsements, campaign structure, etc.

That could happen in HD 14.

But now, ActBlue donors might be spending money on something that may never happen.

Reinstatement call

Jacksonville Republican Rep. John Rutherford urges the Defense Department to let troops discharged because they wouldn’t get COVID shots back in.

“It’s now 2024 — discharged service members are still waiting for Pentagon bureaucrats to undo the mistakes they made and get their jobs back. Secretary Lloyd Austin must be held accountable for correcting our troops’ personnel files as Congress directed. No member of our military discharged over a flawed (and now nonexistent) vaccine mandate should be further punished, especially as our military sees an all-time low in the recruitment and retention of its service members,” Rutherford wrote Sunday in the Times-Union.

John Rutherford is urging the DOD to let the troops discharged because they wouldn’t get COVID shots back in.

The fourth-term Republican, who has filed legislation mandating reinstatement, holds that the Pentagon should “swiftly reinstate every man and woman discharged from our armed forces over a vaccine.”

“If we want to be No. 1 in the world, we must help our military rise to the occasion. That includes reversing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 policies that left so many service members without jobs and weakened our force capabilities. It also means recruiting those same service members back into our military.”

Looks good for Leek?

A new poll shows Republican Senate candidate Tom Leek with a “significant lead” in the Senate District 7 GOP Primary.

A survey from McLaughlin & Associates shows that about 39% of likely Republican Primary voters in the district favor Leek, a state Representative running for the open Senate seat. That compares to 20% who prefer former St. Johns Sheriff David Shoar.

Leek “clearly has the momentum to win the Primary election,” writes pollster Jim McLaughlin.

Tom Leek is the man with momentum.

The firm finds 9% of voters want Gerry James, a former professional wrestler who challenged outgoing Sen. Travis Hutson for the same seat in 2022.

That leaves a full 31% of voters in the race undecided. The Republican nomination will be decided in an Aug. 20 Primary.

The Republican polling firm boasts connections to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Pollsters surveyed 300 likely Primary voters between June 27 and 30. While the poll reports a 5.7-percentage-point margin of error, Leek’s 19-point lead still falls well outside that.

The poll also found that Leek has stronger favorability ratings than Shoar. The state lawmaker has a 42% positive rating, while Shoar has a 34% rating. Pollsters say Leek’s favorability actually exceeds Hutson’s by 14 percentage points.

Pollsters also found that 84% of voters have recently read or heard about Leek. Among this more in-tune group of voters, Leek has a stronger lead over Shoar, 46% to 22%.

Endorsement war

Two Republicans running to succeed Rep. Cyndi Stevenson are touting big endorsements this week.

Chair of Florida Realtors PAC Trustees Jarrod Lowe said “Florida Realtors PAC endorses Nick Primrose for state House District 18 as a leader we can count on to advocate for a strong, stable real estate industry. As more and more people move to the state, smoothing the pathway to homeownership remains a high priority, and we are confident that Nick will work hard to help us achieve this goal.”

Realtors say Nick Primrose is the leader we can count on.

Primrose, a former Deputy General Counsel to Governors Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott, said, “I grew up living in an apartment with a single mother and can deeply appreciate the value of owning a home and laying down roots, something I have the privilege of doing now with my family. I am thankful for the endorsement of Florida Realtors PAC and will champion efforts to ease the process of homeownership in Florida, shield the market from rising inflation costs, and promote transparency between residents and HOAs.”

Meanwhile, the First Coast Manufacturers Association backs his opponent, Kim Kendall.

“The First Coast Manufacturers Association is pleased to announce that our Association is endorsing Kim Kendall’s candidacy for election to the Florida House of Representatives, District 18,” said Lake Ray, President of the First Coast Manufacturers. “We appreciate her hard work and dedication to serve and run for office. Our members also appreciate her openness to meet and listen to our concerns regarding policy affecting manufacturing.”

“I’m thrilled to have the support and endorsement of the First Coast Manufacturers Association in this race for the Florida State House,” said Kendall.

“Manufacturing in Florida has taken off within the last several years as our population has grown and more and more Americans are seeing that the freedoms and quality of life, we enjoy here are second to none. Our state offers freedom, safety and economic opportunity for all, and that’s exactly what people are looking for. It would be an honor to be the voice of our First Coast manufacturers and their employees in the Florida House. This industry plays such a valuable role in our area, and I look forward to championing their best interests.”

No help against Nixon

A political veteran in Jacksonville relies on former colleagues’ support on the local City Council in her challenge to Rep. Nixon.

However, with the Democratic Primary in HD 13 less than two months away, support doesn’t appear to be manifesting quickly enough.

According to records from the state’s Division of Elections, Brenda Priestly Jackson is reporting an anemic $550 raised between June 14 and June 28.

Brenda Priestly Jackson reports some anemic fundraising numbers.

She raised a total of $11,600 and had slightly more than $5,000 on hand at the end of the period.

In the most recent two weeks, Priestly Jackson reported raising money from former Republican Council member Sam Newby’s political consultancy and Democrats Ju’Coby Pittman and Reggie Gaffney, Jr.

She also has $5 in a political committee, Priestly Jackson for Neighbors.

If former local colleagues decided the House race, Priestly Jackson might have won easily.

Friends of Rory Diamond, a political committee affiliated with the Beaches GOP legislator, gave $250 to the candidate earlier this year. Another Republican, Randle Poitevent DeFoor, donated $1,000.

While business groups such as the Associated Industries of Florida back Nixon’s challenger, the incumbent holds a substantial fundraising advantage.

Nixon’s Helping Florida’s Families Flourish committee has $14,350 on hand as of June 28, while she has more than $63,000 in her campaign account, with $2,965 raised in the most recent two weeks. Ruth’s List donated $1,000 of that sum, City Council member Jimmy Peluso $500, and Jacksonville Affordable Housing Director Joshua Hicks gave $50.

A write-in candidate has closed this Primary, meaning only Democrats can vote here.

Cop questions

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office sent several deputies to a controversial training seminar this Spring. Since then, the Department has seen a spike in high-profile care chases resulting in injuries or deaths.

Now, critics are complaining Sheriff Robert Hardwick has allowed a “cowboy cop” culture to be cultivated within the agency.

Is Robert Hardwick allowing a ‘cowboy cop’ culture to be cultivated in St. Johns County?

In April, the Sheriff’s Office sent members of a special task force, including one supervisor, to a Street Cop Training seminar in Orlando. The event promised five days of “priceless law enforcement knowledge,” from spotting smuggling tactics and traps to reading body language and “the gun game.”

“The law enforcement community has come to recognize that if it has a Street Cop label on it, you can trust that it’s going to be top quality training,” promotional materials said ahead of the event.

But that reputation may not be as strong as advertised.

Nine states have banned members of law enforcement from attending Street Cop Training courses altogether. They did so after a deeply critical report by the New Jersey Comptroller’s Office that said the organization, which was then headquartered in the Garden State, promoted unconstitutional policing tactics during vehicle stops and “glorified violence and an excessively militaristic or ‘warrior’ approach.”

According to its social media, the fallout from the report led the organization to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and relocate from New Jersey to Florida this year. The organization now lists its headquarters in Crestview.

“It was nice to be welcomed with open arms and even encouraged to come here. I love the Sunshine State,” Street Cop owner Dennis Benigno wrote in an Instagram post.

St. Johns Sheriff’s Lt. George Harrigan confirmed to Florida Politics the agency sent five deputies from the Task Force Unit to the event at their request. A supervisor was also sent to monitor training, with instructions to pull deputies from the course if any material proved objectionable. Such steps never proved necessary, Harrigan said.

“We did a debrief with those guys, and there were not any concerns as described in the New Jersey report from years ago,” Harrigan said.

He also noted the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office was not the only Northeast Florida agency to send personnel. A Baker County Sheriff’s Office deputy was also in attendance.

Vision quest

Visually impaired customers on public transit in Jacksonville are getting help navigating the city.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) announced this week that the agency is providing a mobile phone application to help visually impaired riders on local buses and shuttles find the right routes. The visual interpreting app Aira is designed to increase accessibility to public transit for blind and low-vision customers.

JTA announces a lifeline for vision-impaired riders.

JTA customers can download the free mobile app. The technology will link the visually impaired rider to a “visual interpreter,” a trained professional who will guide the customer to the correct routes and vehicles they should board at transfer stations or any stop. The service is designed to get customers with visual needs to their destinations safely and without confusion.

“The JTA is proud to offer free access to on-demand visual interpreters to our patrons through our partnership with Aira,” said JTA CEO Nat Ford. “The JTA is committed to providing dignified mobility services that restore independence for all transit users in our communities.”

Podcast pro

Jacksonville’s National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service affiliate is branching into more development along the podcasting lines.

WJCT Public Media has hired Letisha Bereola as director of podcasting. She will manage on-demand listening options for the broadcast outlet headquartered in downtown Jacksonville near EverBank Field stadium and oversee on-demand non-music programming.

WJCT has tapped Letisha Bereola as its new podcast chief.

“Our work in podcasting, which has included the hit limited series Odd Ball with more than 1 million downloads to date, and current series such as Untold Stories with the Florida Theater and Bygone Jax with Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ), is set to become even more important in our strategy as listening habits continue to evolve,” said David McGowen, president and CEO of WJCT.

Bareola has a background in podcasting and founded Paradigm Media Group, which specializes in podcast development.

“I fell in love with podcasts from the moment I listened to my first one in 2014,” said Bereola. “Since then, I’ve seen the medium as a powerful tool for storytelling, community building and entertainment. It’s truly an honor to continue my media career at WJCT in the podcasting space and in the city I call home.”

SunRay sunset

Jacksonville Bold has spent plenty of time in Five Points, but we missed the closing ceremonies for the SunRay movie theater on Park Street.

That doesn’t mean we won’t miss that quirky two-screen movie house though.

SunRay may be gone, but something nicer is on the way.

The spot hosted countless movies that would not be screened anywhere else in town, along with political debates such as in the 2019 City Council race in what was then District 14.


A club. Called FIVE.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before (to quote the Smiths).

We remember when SunRay’s venue was Club 5 — a play on the Five Points neighborhood — and in that capacity, it was a genuine alt.culture hot spot for years for ravers, goths, rockers and amalgams of such.

And now it’s apparently come full circle.

It could be worse.

Now, where did we leave our glowsticks?

Zion zenith

More development for the Northside?

That’s the takeaway from the Jacksonville Daily Record’s rollout of details on Zion Jacksonville LLC “positioning more than 700 acres it owns in North Jacksonville as a master development of potentially more than 8 million square feet of warehouse use.”

Zion Jacksonville is ushering in new development for the Northside.

Karen Mathis, who is as connected as anyone to businesses in the area, notes that infrastructural moves are being made.

“The Prosser civil engineering firm in Jacksonville asked city utility JEA to determine the service availability for the property Zion owns along Eastport Road, south of Interstate 295 and working its way down to Zoo Parkway.”

This will be a story to watch as it develops.

COVID is back

Try not to mask shame if you see people looking like they did in 2020 and 2021.

Because, as Action News Jax notes, COVID is back … as if it ever went away.

CDC Data shows that roughly 3% of emergency department visits include positive diagnoses for the malady, which in its current iteration still has long-term effects for many people who catch it.

COVID is back!

That’s the highest since January.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, former Director of the Duval Department of Health, told ANJax that “COVID tests are still available through pharmacies” and that you should take advantage of them if needed.

As well, vaccination is still a strongly advised move.

“Over a million people died during the pandemic. Most of those people who did were actually not vaccinated. The vaccines that do work. If they want to take that risk for themselves, they can for sure, but they do need to vaccinate their children, and certainly those around them that are a great risk,” Goldhagen notes.

Daring rescue

We couldn’t finish this issue without lauding an act of heroism over the holiday weekend.

A feel-good story from the holiday weekend.

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued five people Sunday after their 24-foot boat capsized 11 miles off Mayport. All were safe … in part because they paid attention to safety.

“While on the water, situations can become unpredictable and dangerous in an instant, so it’s crucial to be prepared,” said Cmdr. Nick Barrow, Sector Jacksonville search and rescue mission coordinator. “Having life jackets for everyone aboard your vessel can help save lives by providing essential buoyancy and increasing visibility in the water. We appreciate the swift emergency communications relay with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, enabling a rapid response to the scene.”

The rescued boaters were taken to Mayport Boat Ramp.

Camp & Bucs

The Jaguars will open training camp July 24 in preparation for the upcoming season.

The team announced 16 dates during camp when sessions will be open to the public, including joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 14 and 15.

All Jaguars’ training camp practices will be held at the Miller Electric Center which opened last year.

Jaguars’ training camp is held at the newly opened Miller Electric Center.

One of the dates, Friday, July 26 is exclusive to season ticket members.

Additionally, the Jaguars will host a practice inside EverBank Stadium on Aug. 3. Practice is expected to begin at 10 a.m.

The full schedule of open practice sessions (parking lots open at 7 a.m. ET, gates open at 8 a.m. ET, with practice anticipated to start at 8:45 a.m. ET unless noted):

  • Wednesday, July 24
  • Thursday, July 25
  • Friday, July 26 (exclusive to season ticket members)
  • Saturday, July 27
  • Monday, July 29
  • Tuesday, July 30
  • Friday, Aug. 2
  • Saturday, Aug. 3 (Inside EverBank Stadium, parking lots open at 8 a.m., gates at 9 a.m., practice expected to begin at 10 a.m.)
  • Sunday, Aug. 4
  • Monday, Aug. 5
  • Wednesday, Aug. 7
  • Thursday, Aug. 8
  • Monday, Aug. 12 (Gates open at 11:45 a.m.)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 14 (Gates open at 9 a.m., joint practice with Buccaneers)
  • Thursday, Aug. 15 (Gates open at 9 a.m., joint practice with Buccaneers)

Training camp practices are free, but fans are asked to register at Jaguars.com/trainingcamp.

When fans watch the Jaguars prepare for the season, they may note a familiar number with a new name on the jersey. Edge rusher Josh Allen has changed his name to Josh Hines-Allen in tribute to his mother’s side of the family.

Allen’s sister, Myisha Hines-Allen plays for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. Sisters Kyra Hines-Allen and LaTorri Hines-Allen also played college basketball. His uncle Gregory Hines (not the dancer) was a fifth-round pick of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in 1983 and his uncle Keith Hines played college basketball at Montclair State.

Josh Hines-Allen said he wanted to change his name to connect with the family legacy and to further his.

“Legacy is forever, and I’m proud to carry that tradition on the back of my jersey, following in the footsteps of my family, who have donned the Hines-Allen last name with so much pride and joy,” he said. “My last name has been changed, but I’m still that person and I will continue to play like it, play even better.”

The name change isn’t the first in Jaguars history. Maurice Jones-Drew added his mother’s name to his jersey after the team drafted him in the second round. Several other players have added Jr. or II suffixes to their names.

The change to Hines-Allen will also alleviate any confusion between fans between the Jaguars’ star and Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.

Hines-Allen will host a jersey exchange in September for fans who own his “Allen 41” jersey.

Staff Reports


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