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Flag flap dispatched: Jacksonville raises military flags across from City Hall

Months back, a code enforcement issue became global news, when a city of Jacksonville employee cited a local business for flying military flags.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry overruled his employee.

“Let them fly,” he tweeted.

And so they did at the business.

And now those flags will fly, permanently, at City Hall, after a ceremonial raising of the flags of all military branches (along with a POW/MIA flag) Tuesday.

Curry noted the city’s “gratitude for members of the armed forces” factoring into the decision to fly the flags as a “daily reminder of all that served and all that have served.”

Curry noted after July 4 that he realized that he needed to do something to honor the military, as he wrote at the time.

“A week ago, as I sat on the south bank of the St. Johns, my family and I enjoyed the fireworks and celebrations with our downtown as a backdrop. As the fun of the evening faded and we returned home, I spent some time reflecting about our city and our nation. My grandfathers and my father came to mind as I thought of the many men, women and families who have sacrificed by serving in our military to defend our way of life,” Curry asserted.

“With these reflections in mind,” the Mayor added, “I have decided that in addition to flying the United States flag, we should add the five military branch flags in an array around the National Colors in front of City Hall.”

“To honor that long tradition,” Curry added, “I want everyone who works in or visits City Hall to be reminded of the dedication of our Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Therefore, today I have asked my staff to install the necessary hardware next to the National Colors in Hemming Park to let our military flags fly.”

Worth noting: discussion of proper flag order was held before Independence Day, per an email from Chief of Staff Brian Hughes to Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa.

“There are five branches of the United States military; the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. While each branch of the military dedicates their time to certain aspects of protection and service, the five military branches work together to some extent in their role of security for the country. Each branch of the military has a separate flag, represented by emblems and insignia specific to the different branches. When displaying military branch flags together, the order of precedence should be the National Colors, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard,” Hughes wrote on July 3.

We asked Curry about this Tuesday, and he reiterated his contention that “reflecting and going into the holiday and the holiday is what today’s about.”

Jacksonville commemorates Consolidation

Fifty years ago Monday, Jacksonville (racked by corruption and governmental inefficiency at the time) embarked on an experiment with consolidated government.

Though many debate the efficacy of the model, the case for Consolidation was made (or reiterated) energetically Monday evening at the Jessie Ball DuPont Center.

The Jacksonville Historical Society’s Task Force for Consolidation hosted the 5:30 p.m. event, which saw  with Rick Mullaney, the former Jacksonville General Counsel.

Mullaney, an enthusiast for Consolidation, referred to the move as “the most significant local government restructuring in Florida history.

“The Jacksonville of the 1960s,” Mullaney said, was perceived as “a slow-moving southern town with an inferiority complex.

Including here, he added.

“That was a perception we had of ourselves,” Mullaney noted.

Jacksonville had seen a “wave of public corruption” in the 1930s, which included “wasteful and duplicative” services.

Despite this, and a Jacksonville Constitutional Amendment that gave the city significant leeway, nothing was done until the 1960s.

The referendum that greenlighted Consolidation, said Mullaney, brought a “strong mayor” form of government with a “unique ability to build consensus [for] transformational change.”

Earl Johnson, Jr.. a co-chair on that task force, spoke of Jacksonville as a “small town” with “backroom deals” and a propensity for “white flight” ahead of Consolidation.

Johnson’s father was a leader in the African-American political community. When confronted with the inevitable worries about the diminishing power of the black vote, Johnson noted that his father “thought ‘us’ was everybody.”

Change came, Johnson noted, with African-Americans increasingly taking key roles in the city.

By 2011, Consolidated Jacksonville had its first African-American mayor. And today, Johnson noted that there are “more black leaders in local government than ever before.”

And Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, conscious of the future, noted there is “a lot of work that has to be done,” but that the strong mayor form of government allows latitude for him to say “we’re going to do that … build that … fix that.”

The narrative Monday night was that of a city punching above its weight. Whether that is a universally-held dictum or not, it seemed to dominate the dais … and perhaps the whole room.

Air war in HD 15: Wyman Duggan, Tracye Polson drop bombs

The race to replace outgoing Rep. Jay Fant in Westside Jacksonville’s House District 15 has become an air war, and the latest sortie from Republican Wyman Duggan means incoming for Democrat Tracye Polson.

Not with Us,” a 30-second spot from Duggan’s campaign, paints “political insider” Polson as too radical for the district.

“Polson actually stands with out-of-state donors,” the voiceover bemoans, “pouring tens of thousands of dollars into her campaign.”

(An irony of sorts: Duggan was pilloried in the primary for getting an inordinate number of donations from outside the district.)

As a series of vivid images ranging from resistance marches to what may be archival footage of a flag burning flash onto the screen, the voiceover depicts Polson as a devotee of “socialized health care, job-killing taxes, and big government education,” including but not limited to “putting unions ahead of students.”

Florida House Victory slammed the spot Friday afternoon.

“Wyman Duggan’s GOP donors saw their own interests take a nosedive when Tracye Polson started to rise in the polls, so they gave Duggan’s campaign a lifeline with this new ad,” asserted spox Marisol Samayoa, who called Duggan a “self-serving lobbyist.”

The Duggan spot serves as a sharp-elbowed response to a Polson spot bringing up his lobbying, including advocacy for selling JEA, and advocacy he made for an appointed school board in 2010.

“Whose side is lobbyist Wyman Duggan on … My opponent can stand with the other lobbyists. I’ll always stand with Florida’s families,” Polson said.

The candidates are going negative early for good reason: Polling shows the race as a virtual tie.

An internal Polson poll from SEA Polling and Strategic Design showed Duggan up two points (41-39) in what Democrats see as a swing district. There are polls, we are told by Republican operatives not aligned with Duggan, that also have Polson up.

The resource battle is worth watching down the stretch, and as of Sept. 14 it’s favorable to the Democrat: Duggan has under $23,000 on hand after a bitter primary battle, putting him well behind Polson’s $116,000-plus, in a district that has a slight Democratic plurality.

The Republican Party of Florida is involved; this is a three-pack with HD 16 Rep. Jason Fischer and HD 10 candidate Chuck Brannan.

The seat did go for Donald Trump two years ago, though Democrats haven’t fielded a candidate in HD 15 since it was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections, so its lean in down-ballot races hasn’t been tested.

Florida Blue means green for Travis Cummings, Rob Bradley

State Rep. Travis Cummings and Sen. Rob Bradley, two Clay County Republicans in power positions, continue to aggressively fundraise through committees despite not facing ballot challenges.

First Coast Conservatives, Cummings’ committee, pulled in $78,000 between Sept. 15 and 21, with $60,000 coming from insurance company Florida Blue.

Cummings chairs Health and Human Services in the Florida House. His committee has been a regular beneficiary of Florida Blue’s altruism, with $183,000 received since 2015.

Bradley, the Senate budget chair, likewise has no election, but brought in $50,000 from Florida Blue in the same week; through the life of his committee, Working for Florida’s Families, Florida Blue donated $182,000.

Cummings’ committee had $548,033 total on hand. Bradley’s had $638,369. These are useful war chests given a tough year for other candidates, with money movable between committees or to the state party as needs require.

And Florida Blue money is helpful for the two Clay legislators to advance statewide priorities while leveraging Republican resources regionally.

Cummings and Bradley, pre-primary endorsers of Ron DeSantis for Governor, were on the host committee for the candidate’s Wednesday evening funder in Jacksonville — a place with real significance given the pick of local Susie Wiles to helm DeSantis’ campaign.

Wiles has worked closely with current Jacksonville leadership, just as Bradley and Cummings have — all three were engaged in Jacksonville’s plan to restructure its pension debt in 2016.

The legislators got it through Tallahassee, and Wiles was helpful in getting roughly two-thirds of Jacksonville voters to ratify the pension reform package via referendum.

Should DeSantis defy the polls and win, Northeast Florida will be pivotal.

Jacksonville Bold for 9.28.18 — A good idea?

Five decades ago, Jacksonville consolidated city and county services. For 50 years since people have been arguing about whether it was a good idea.

We saw it last week: a mayoral forum involving Mayor Lenny Curry and his five living predecessors (look for the replay Sunday on This Week in Jacksonville). Curry, seeking re-election, sounded like he was campaigning. His predecessors were able to be a bit more candid about the failures of the model.

Mayors on the couch: You’ll see this Sunday morning on WJXT.

Democrats Alvin Brown and Jake Godbold were blunt, saying that black voters got jobbed — both in the decadeslong deferral of a black mayor, and the extension of city capital to pre-consolidation areas, many of which still lack sewer and water.

Of course, infrastructural imbalances aren’t the only failure of Consolidation. Public safety, the talking point of most local pols, is also compromised in those older neighborhoods, where aggressive policing and surveillance technology have not dented the latest rises in the murder rate.

It’s been 50 years since Consolidation. When a new crop of pundits takes on the issue during the centennial, will they too be talking about the broken promises from 1968?

One-and-done could be done

Some NCAA men’s hoops programs are infamous for their “one and done” players, the “diaper dandies” who spend a year in a collegiate apprenticeship before moving to the NBA.

Al Lawson is going to the hoop with a bill that could be big for ballers.

New legislation from U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a former college baller who spent some time in the pros and in the coaching ranks, would change that.

HR 6749 would eliminate the National Basketball Association’s “One-and-Done” rule, which requires American players to be at least 19 and to spend a year in college.

“A collective bargaining agreement between a professional sports league and a professional players’ association entered into after the date of the enactment of this Act shall allow adults to enter the collective bargaining agreement at the same level as other adults with the same experience level in such professional sports league,” reads the bill.

The current NBA CBA extends until 2024.

The rule has been a “burden” on college programs’ recruitment budgets, Lawson posits.

“Eliminating this rule would allow college programs to further invest in student-athletes who are truly interested in gaining a college education,” Lawson said.

The Lawson bill offers myriad protections for student-athletes, such as a returning athlete scholarship program, work opportunities for athletes in the summer, and full insurance coverage for sports-related injuries.

But the change in “one and done” would be an impact noticed not just by athletes, but fans.

Coxe decries CRC process

Jacksonville trial lawyer Hank Coxe was a member of this year’s Constitutional Revision Commission, responsible for various ballot measures this year.

However, per the Jacksonville Daily Record, Coxe was not thrilled with how the sausage was made.

Hank Coxe pictured with Jax Rotary President Traci Jenks. (Image via Jax Daily Record).

“It was an interesting process and I made some friends,” Coxe told the Rotary Club this week.

However, the “citizens’ review” of the Constitution was larded up by political appointments, Coxe contended.

The Daily Record breaks it down: “The commission comprises the state attorney general, 15 members appointed by the governor, nine appointed by the Senate president, nine appointed by the speaker of the House and three appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, one of whom was Coxe.”

Coxe has issues with Amendment 6 (“Marsy’s Law”), claiming it could give victims way too much power over court proceedings. He also panned efforts — or lack thereof — on post-Parkland gun reform and bans on greyhound race betting.

Nelson talks ‘work-life effectiveness’

State Attorney Melissa Nelson of the 4th Circuit addressed the concept of “work-life effectiveness” in remarks reported this week by the Jacksonville Daily Record.

Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams at a presser with State Attorney Melissa Nelson.

Nelson also had to take care of her mother last year, who lives out of town.

Despite her Type A personality, she had to delegate office duties in her absence.

That delegation worked out fine.

Nelson, a first-term Republican elected for a four-year term in 2016, has yet to file for re-election, though competition does not appear to be on the horizon.

Bean raises $12K

Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean, whose GOP plurality Senate District 4 encompasses all of Nassau and part of Duval County, is already starting to spend big money on his re-election bid.

Aaron Bean faces two opponents, neither of whom will match his fundraising.

But he’s raising it as well, with $11,800 brought in between Sept. 1 and 14. Bean has roughly $185,000 on hand, compared to Democrat Billee Bussard’s $7,000 on hand after raising $3,445 in the same two-week period. Libertarian Joanna Tavares does not fundraise and has roughly $40 on hand.

Bean drew a primary challenge and won that race by 75 points.

While the general election should be more competitive, it’s notable that nearly half of the 360,000 voters in SD 4 are Republican.

Poll: Polson/Duggan in dead heat

In the competitive race to replace Jay Fant in Westside Jacksonville’s House District 15, the battle between Democrat Tracye Polson and Republican Wyman Duggan is headed down to the wire, per one recent survey commissioned by the Polson campaign.

Can Trayce Polson drive up Wyman Duggan’s negatives? If so, she can flip HD 15.

An internal poll from SEA Polling and Strategic Design showed Duggan up two points (41-39) in what Democrats see as a swing district.

A good illustration that the district is in play: The same voters polled chose Rick Scott over Bill Nelson for Senate (49-42), though they prefer Andrew Gillum over Ron DeSantis in the Governor’s race (48-46).

The survey indicated also that voters can be moved from Duggan to Polson when issues are presented to contrast the candidates.

Issues that performed best for Polson: increasing school resource officers; protecting drinking water; and Polson’s own history as a cancer survivor and social worker with military families, which positions her well to understand issues ranging from health care disparities to the unique pressures faced by service members and their families.

When issues such as those were presented to voters, Polson had a nine-point lead with those surveyed. When issues including Duggan’s advocacy for selling JEA and an appointed school board factored in, Polson’s lead grew to 10 points.

A taste of that contrast presentation is already on Jacksonville airwaves, as Polson asks viewers: “What side is lobbyist Wyman Duggan on?” (A polling memo attached to the current poll shows JEA and the school board issues as two big movers for voters).

The resource battle is worth watching down the stretch, and right now it’s favorable to the Democrat: Duggan has under $23,000 on hand, putting him well behind Polson’s $116,000+, in a district that has a slight Democratic plurality.

Polson’s team is optimistic: As one senior staffer wrote in a polling memo, “we need money to get our message out and we win.”

Duggan’s posse

Of course, Polson isn’t mentioning in a vacuum. Duggan — in a new Republican Party of Florida ad — has his own message.

The ad introduces a new endorsement: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, who joins Duggan’s political patron, Mayor Lenny Curry, in backing his bid.

The spot hits some biographical points, including Duggan’s service as a U.S. Marine, before moving on to issues, such as “priority funding for public school students” and “more resources to fight crime.”

Duggan’s Democratic opponent Tracye Polson — in an irony that illustrates the nature of this swing district — has been endorsed by the local Fraternal Order of Police. In that context, Sheriff Mike Williams’ endorsement may prove useful as counterprogramming.

The spot is part of a Florida GOP “three-pack” with Chuck Clemons and Rep. Jason Fischer.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

$40K haul for Fischer

State Rep. Jason Fischer, first-term Republican representing Jacksonville’s Southside/Mandarin District 16, is kicking his campaign machine into high gear with the general election in site — and that includes big fundraising and spending. Between his campaign account and his Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville committee, Fischer raised $39,500 between Sept. 8 and 14.

Jason Fischer faces a spirited challenge in his first election against a Democrat.

In comparison to Fischer’s $156,000 nest egg, Democrat Ken Organes is relatively cash-strapped. Organes brought in just $2,496 between Sept. 8 and 14, and he has just over $30,000 on hand. HD 16 has a strong GOP plurality: of its 120,186 registered voters, over 55,000 are Republican.

Byrd, Yarborough maintain cash leads

First-term Jacksonville-area Republican state Reps. Cord Byrd and Clay Yarborough continued to maintain strong cash leads over Democratic challengers through the first part of September.

Cord Byrd and Clay Yarborough seem to be gliding to re-election.

Byrd, whose majority-Republican House District 11 includes coastal Duval and all of Nassau County, brought in $3,500 of new money between Sept. 1 and 14, pushing his campaign account near $42,000 on hand. TECO and the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters were among the donors.

Byrd also has nearly $10,000 in his 1845 political committee.

Byrd’s general election opponent, Nathcelly Rohrbaugh, mostly kept pace with Byrd when it came to early September receipts, bringing in $3,000 of new money, pushing his campaign account near $14,000 on hand.

Among Byrd’s donors: Rena Coughlin, CEO of the Non-Profit Center of Northeast Florida. Coughlin also had a role in the transition team for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Yarborough, running in Southside Jacksonville’s Republican-plurality House District 12, has started to deploy resources raised over the last 20 months of his re-election bid.

The Arlington Republican raised just $2,500 and spent $17,645 between Sept. 1 and 14, leaving him with just over $101,000 on hand.

Yarborough’s Democratic opponent Tim Yost raised $1,890, with $1,100 from people with the Yost surname. Yost has just over $11,000 on hand.

Cinnamon rolls and Caldwell

State Rep. Matt Caldwell, the Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, was fed and feted Friday by a collection of Clay County Republicans.

Caldwell, a Republican from Fort Myers, made an appearance at the Orange Park’s “Grumpy’s Restaurant.” Also on hand were Clay County Commissioners Mike CellaGayward Hendry, and Gavin Rollins.

Caldwell is in what appears, at least in polling, to be a close race with Democrat Nikki Fried.

Recent polling shows Fried up two points on Caldwell (inside the margin of error); however, there is evidence that Caldwell (or forces aligned with him) are testing messaging in the Jacksonville market.


David Cawton covers government for the Jacksonville Daily Record.

Vogtle vexations

Jacksonville’s public utility JEA and Georgia’s Municipal Electric Authority are at loggerheads over the future of the $27 billion Plant Vogtle, with lawsuits filed by each side.

Plant Vogtle seems to be going poorly for JEA.

JEA wants out of the deal, and went so far as to negotiate better terms for MEAG with an alternative power vendor while also agreeing to pay “sunk costs” on the deal.

Despite this, the Board of MEAG Power voted unanimously Monday to continue construction of Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4.

Co-owners Georgia Power and the City of Dalton had previously voted to move forward.

The other co-owner, Oglethorpe Power, wants caps on costs. That said, the utility noted this summer that it can weather the storm.

“The need to adjust OPC’s budget to complete Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 to account for the recently announced increases will be muted for OPC and its member EMCs, due to a conservative contingency that we embedded in our existing budget of $7.0 billion,” said OPC President and CEO Mike Smith.

JEA has invoked emotional appeals in its attempt to escape the deal, including mentioning that families in poverty can’t afford to pay higher rates because of the Plant Vogtle deal.

The utility is on a negative credit watch from Standard & Poor’s.

“In our view, JEA’s assertions that its board acted beyond the scope of its authority raises questions about the quality of the utility’s internal controls,” S&P analyst David Bodek said, according to the Florida Times-Union.

“In our opinion, the utility’s legal claims seeking to repudiate the board’s actions after a decade call into question the utility’s willingness to meet its contractual financial obligations.”

Estimated completion dates of the new nuclear units remain Nov. 2021 for Unit 3, and Nov. 2022 for Unit 4.

Overton cash lead in Duval Tax Collector bid

Republican Jim Overton maintains his lead in the money race with Democrat Mia Jones for Duval County Tax Collector — even though she was the choice of almost 47 percent of voters in the August blanket primary.

GOP money is finding Jim Overton’s opponent, which means this could get interesting.

The latest filings to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections run through Sept. 14. Overton (a former City Councilman and Property Appraiser) now has over $27,000 on hand after raising $5,250 in the two weeks leading up to the 14th. Jones, meanwhile, actually outraised Overton during the two-week filing period, bringing in $6,371 and giving her over $16,000 on hand.

Notably, some typically GOP money is finding her. Racetracks in Bayard, Orange Park and Jacksonville — associated with the bestbet gambling concern — all gave the maximum $1,000 to the former state representative (termed out in 2016) and Jacksonville city councilwoman.

Democrats enjoy a registration advantage in Duval County. Of the just over 600,000 registered voters, 244,542 are Democrats, compared to 219,850 Republicans.

JU gets permit for new health sciences center

Jacksonville University has received permitting for a new $20 million health sciences building.

Steller Group Inc. will now begin construction of the three-story building at 5491 Dolphin Point Blvd. on the north end of the campus.

New Jacksonville University health services facility gets a permit, construction to begin right away.

The new facility will be home to the Keigwin School of Nursing, the School of Applied Health Sciences and the School of Orthodontics, reports the Jacksonville Daily Record. Programs will include speech pathology, mental health counseling, occupational therapy and kinesiology.

“Jacksonville University’s academic breadth and brand in the health care space inspired the creation of this 103,000 square-foot building,” said Interim Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Christine Sapienza in an email to the Record.

Jags seeking deeper bench

The Jacksonville Jaguars missed Leonard Fournette badly Sunday. The second-year star running back missed his second straight game and the Jags could not reach the end zone in a hugely disappointing 9-6 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Quarterback Blake Bortles rarely plays well against the Titans — and Sunday was no different. He needed a key running threat to provide cover on the ground, but that did not come from T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant or anyone else.

The Jaguars certainly missed Leonard Fournette Sunday. (Image via Getty)

Running the ball continues to be a big problem when Fournette cannot play, which has been a problem during the first 19 games of his young career. He may return this week against the Jets, but team management is looking for depth at the position as well as at quarterback.

Earlier this week, the Jaguars reportedly brought in former Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford and former Denver Broncos’ quarterback Paxton Lynch for a look.

Cody Kessler and Tanner Lee are Bortles’ current backups.

Coach Doug Marrone believes there is enough talent already on hand to win regularly; they just need to keep working hard in practice and carry that effort and execution to the field on game days.

“You’ve got to put in the work, got to put in the preparation, but you can’t make the mistake of not understanding that it’s a performance-based business,” he said Wednesday. “You have to do it Sunday. Even if you go during the week and do a great job, when that Sunday comes you have to be able to put that on the field and be able to perform.”

The rare three-game homestand ends Sunday when the New York Jets visit TIAA Bank Field at 1 p.m.

Cinnamon rolls and Matt Caldwell: Clay County hosts breakfast for candidate

State Rep. Matt Caldwell, the Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, will feed and be feted by a collection of Clay County Republicans Friday morning.

Caldwell, a Republican from Fort Myers, will address the group at Orange Park’s “Grumpy’s Restaurant” at 8 a.m.

A list of Republican notables will be on hand, including Clay County Commissioners Mike CellaGayward Hendry, and Gavin Rollins.

Caldwell is in what appears, at least in polling, to be a close race with Democrat Nikki Fried.

Recent polling shows Fried up two points on Caldwell (inside the margin of error); however, there is evidence that Caldwell (or forces aligned with him) are testing messaging in the Jacksonville market.

Cawton covers government for the Jacksonville Daily Record.

Caldwell has challenged Fried to a “contest of ideas” in debates; however, as often seems to happen, the candidates can’t seem to agree on debate moderators or scheduling.

Though Fried held a cash on hand lead soon after the primary, the money edge proved ephemeral.

Caldwell’s coffers brim with new lucre (over a million dollars since the primary), and Fried’s fundraising has stalled.

A new accounting: Lenny Curry PAC pays Jaguars for a change

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry‘s state-level political committee (Build Something that Lasts) has benefited greatly from the generosity of the Jacksonville Jaguars and owner Shad Khan in recent years.

The committee has raised $1.79 million in total. Of that sum, Khan has ponied up $175,000 and the Jaguars have ponied up another $35,000.

(That isn’t all they’ve donated: among other disbursements, Khan has also donated $25,000 to the Mayor’s re-election committee, and the Jacksonville Jaguars also poured $200,000 into the “Yes for Jacksonville” pension reform referendum push.)

But between Sept. 15 and 21, the money went the other way. Build Something that Lasts doled out about $7,300 to the Jaguars on four invoices for fundraising expenses.

Fundraisers hadn’t been invoiced before (except one Nov. 2015 event at $750), so we asked why the change.

Those invoices include a London trip and fundraiser, and another fundraiser, according to the committee’s Tim Baker.

Baker noted that they could have made the fundraisers in-kind contributions, but the committee is “paying for everything instead of in-kinds for election year.”

The committee had paid “Iguana Investments,” another Shad Khan business concern, $1,416 for travel in August 2017 — payment for a three-city trip Curry took on Khan’s jet that summer, looking at sports-entertainment districts in different cities, exploring ideas for future development in Jacksonville.

The committee has received $4,458 in in-kind contributions since its inception; none of them were for fundraisers at the stadium, however, raising questions as to where the in-kinds were invoiced.

We’ve yet to get full clarity on that; however, the symbiosis between the Curry machine and Khan and the Jaguars is well-known.

The apparent accounting change comes as the Jacksonville city elections are less than six months away, though Curry has yet to draw a serious challenger.

Curry has raised over $2.5 million for his re-election bid next year, after $221,000 in August receipts between his campaign account and that of his Jacksonville on the Rise re-election committee.

Though this number is strong, we are told the September numbers will eclipse it.

Expectations were that Councilwoman Anna Brosche would finally file to run, so major donors re-upped, and some new names were added to the list of supporters.

Qualifying is in January, and Brosche has said she has until then to make a decision.

Court affirms validity of Jacksonville City Councilman Terrance Freeman appointment

Jacksonville City Councilman Terrance Freeman is legally clear to serve on the Council, with a residency challenge against his Gubernatorial appointment thrown out.

Plaintiff Brenda Priestly-Jackson, a Democrat who was passed over for the appointment to the position by Gov. Rick Scott, questioned Freeman’s residency.

However, Judge Waddell Wallace agreed with lawyers for Freeman, the city of Jacksonville, and the state of Florida that there was no basis for the legal challenge. At the time he was sworn in on July 12, they contend, Freeman had established residency.

Wallace also noted that the appeal lacked a cause of action, and any opportunity for declaratory relief.

Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel said “The Court essentially ruled that the entire lawsuit was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the plain language of Florida law and our local law. Thus, the Court correctly determined that the complaint utterly failed to state a cause of action and that any attempt to fix the erroneous complaint would be futile. Consequently, the Court dismissed the action with prejudice.”

Freeman was appointed to serve while Councilman Reggie Brown, a Democrat, was suspended pending the resolution of myriad fraud charges against him.

Brown has a trial in February, suggesting that Freeman will be in the position for at least the next few months.

The city of Jacksonville has elections next year.

Freeman has yet to file to run for the seat. A number of candidates are filed, but none have proven fundraising ability, suggesting that the establishment-friendly Freeman may have resources opponents lack.

Duval Republicans to fete Ron DeSantis with Wednesday fundraiser

Duval County was the epicenter of some of the most savage attacks against Ron DeSantis in the Republican Gubernatorial primary.

Many prominent Republicans, including U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, state Sen. Aaron Bean, state Rep. Cord Byrd, and Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman, strongly backed Adam Putnam.

However, the candidate who “knew Florida best” didn’t prevail. And Jacksonville area Republicans will have a chance Wednesday to get right with the nominee, via a star-studded funder at the tony Ponte Vedra Country Club.

DeSantis has at least one other campaign stop in the Jacksonville market Wednesday, an afternoon visit to JAXPORT. However, the fundraiser was on the books for weeks before that was slated. Lt. Gov. nominee Jeannette Nunez, meanwhile, will be in Nassau County on Wednesday, suggesting she will end up at the Ponte Vedra event also.

Driving DeSantis’ Northeast Florida finance efforts: Kent StermonJohn Rood, and Jay Demetree. Expectations are that this event could exceed Rick Scott‘s take eight years ago in similar circumstances.

DeSantis, who at least temporarily is behind Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in fundraising, will seek to close the gap with the help of some of Jacksonville’s deepest pocketed patrons and most prominent local pols.

The host committee (still in formation) includes local powerbrokers: JEA Board member Husein Cumber (a strong fundraiser going back to the George W. Bush administration) is on board, as is lobbyist Marty Fiorentino, and Jamie and Ali Shelton of bestbet fame, the aforementioned Stermon/Rood/Demetree troika.

Also expected to be on board: Peter Rummell and Tom Petway, two more bulwarks of the Northeast Florida donor class.

Co-chairs include former Duval GOP Chair John Falconetti and former Congressional candidate Hans Tanzler III.

But it’s the honorary host category that shows the greatest party unity, as many of its members were on Team Putnam.

Sen. Aaron Bean, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, and former U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw are all now on DeSantis’ side, joining Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams, and Rep. Travis Cummings (who endorsed DeSantis before the primary).

The decision is pragmatic. Where else are they going to go?

But after a vituperative primary fight, one full of colorful turns of phrase and de rigueur character assassination, it’s worth noting how quickly the healing begins for Duval Republicans.

For those interested in RSVPing, contact Brianna Jordan (Brianna@FrontStreetFlorida.com) or Heather Barker (Heather@RonDeSantis.com).

Wyman Duggan back on air with GOP support, new Jax endorsement

Wyman Duggan, the Republican nominee in Jacksonville’s House District 15, is back on the air this week for the first time since the primary.

Paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, the 15-second spot is evidence that the GOP is engaged to keep outgoing Jay Fant‘s seat.

The ad introduces a new endorsement: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams joins Duggan’s political patron, Mayor Lenny Curry, in backing his bid.

The spot hits some biographical points, including Duggan’s service as a U.S. Marine, before moving on to issues, such as “priority funding for public school students” and “more resources to fight crime.”

Duggan’s Democratic opponent Tracye Polson, in an irony that illustrates the nature of this swing district, has been endorsed by the local Fraternal Order of Police. In that context, Williams’ endorsement may prove useful as counterprogramming.

This race in a district with a 1,000 vote Democratic plurality is on a razor’s edge, according to recent polling commissioned by the Polson camp.

An internal poll from SEA Polling and Strategic Design showed Duggan up 2 points (41-39) in what Democrats see as a swing district.

The resource battle is worth watching down the stretch, and right now it’s favorable to the Democrat: Duggan has less than $23,000 on hand after a bitter primary battle, putting him well behind Polson’s $116,000-plus.

That said, the RPOF spend suggests that the resource disparity could fade soon into the rearview mirror.

The district did go for Donald Trump two years ago, though Democrats haven’t fielded a candidate in HD 15 since it was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections, so its lean in down-ballot races hasn’t been tested.

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