Jax – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Audrey Gibson primary challenger Reggie Brown raises no February money

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown, who is primarying State Sen. Audrey Gibson on the grounds that she’s not bringing enough money back home, failed to impress in his first finance report in February.

Brown filed a waiver, a move that won’t resolve concerns about the uphill climb that he will have in challenging the Senate Minority Leader Designate.

With the Legislative Session poised to end in the coming days, one might have thought that Brown needed to make his mark in February, a month in which Gibson would not be able to fundraise.

However, that didn’t happen.

Gibson has $121,410 on hand, and reasonable expectations are that she will burnish that figure going forward.

Joseph Hogan becomes third Republican in HD 15 race

The race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jay Fant, an Attorney General hopeful, in Jacksonville’s House District 15 got more crowded on the Republican side Wednesday.

Joseph Hogan, the son of Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, entered the GOP scrum.

Hogan will face attorney Wyman Duggan and yacht broker Mark Zeigler in the primary.

Hogan made an audacious play during the Mayor’s race three years ago. He endorsed Democrat Alvin Brown over Republican Lenny Curry, crossing party lines despite what he called Brown’s “failed administration.”

“I didn’t make my decision lightly,” related Hogan in a series of text messages. “I plan to run for City Council one day, and I know that supporting Alvin could hurt me with the Party folk, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”

“I don’t look forward to Lenny losing, but someone has to win, and I think the people of Jacksonville are better off with Mayor Alvin Brown,” Hogan added.

The seeds for that endorsement, Hogan related, were planted four years prior, in the aftermath of his father’s narrow defeat at the hands of the Brown operation, upon which Curry said that “excuses are for serial losers,” a shot across the bow of the Hogan campaign that Joe took personally.

Interestingly, Hogan filed for the race just hours after Curry filed to run again for Mayor.

Curry’s chief political strategist, Tim Baker, is running the Wyman Duggan campaign, suggesting that there may be intrigue through August in this race.

St. Johns County Sheriff backs Jimmy Johns for Congress

St. Johns County Commissioner Jimmy Johns scored a significant endorsement Wednesday, from St. Johns Sheriff David Shoar, in the crowded GOP primary in Florida’s Sixth Congressional District.

Shoar cited Johns’ “track record of supporting our public safety officers. He has done so on the St. Johns County Commission and will do so in Washington.”

Shoar pivoted from that track record to asserting that Johns was “someone that understands what it takes to keep our country safe, not only at home but at our border.”

Johns said it was “always humbling when such a highly respected law enforcement officer steps up to endorse.”

Shoar, said Johns, “has been on the front lines and knows what it takes to keep us safe. I will rely on him and the public safety communities to make sure that the laws passed in Washington protect citizens against murderous foreign gangs and solving the nation’s opioid crisis. We need to listen to those tasked with protecting us for solutions to these issues.”

The GOP field in the district, one that runs from St. Johns County south to Volusia, has a number of candidates already, including former Ormond Beach state Rep. Fred Costello, businessman John Ward, and former Green Beret and current Fox News commentator Michael Waltz.

One of these Republicans will emerge from the primary to face likely Democratic nominee Ambassador Nancy Soderberg in the general election.

Jordan Davis’ parents back Alvin Brown for Congress

Alvin Brown was Jacksonville Mayor in 2012, when Jordan Davis was gunned down at a gas station on the Southside.

In the years since, Brown has demonstrated support and friendship to Davis’ parents, and that support was reciprocated, via an official endorsement for Congress Wednesday.

Ron Davis and Lucy McBath, offered a joint statement, one that invoked both the Parkland massacre and the National Rifle Association.

“Nearly six years ago, our 17-year-old son Jordan was gunned down at a gas station in Jacksonville for simply playing music too loudly. The recent tragedy in Parkland shows just how little progress we’ve made, and how much more we still have to do, to keep our communities and kids safe from gun violence. This issue is truly one of life or death, and the stakes are too high for more excuses from do-nothing lawmakers, with our children’s blood on their hands, who ignore what’s in their heart to focus on what’s in their pocket. They readily support ‘Stand Your Ground’ and side with the NRA. Alvin Brown is a dedicated public servant with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby, and we know he will help make our country a safer, better place. We are proud to support his campaign.”

Worth noting: Brown’s opponent in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, Al Lawson,  previously reported having taken NRA money last year. However, a staffer from his office asserted that was a clerical error.

“No parent should ever have to bury a child,” Brown asserted, “and it’s shameful that ‘leaders’ in Tallahassee and Washington refuse to protect their own constituents from gun violence. I am honored to receive Ron and Lucy’s support and fight alongside them for commonsense gun policies to ensure senseless deaths like Jordan’s never happen again. The preventable school shootings and continued violence on our streets must end before more of our children are killed going to school, getting gas or walking home. Enough is enough.”  

With Lawson poised to swing through Jacksonville for a couple of media events next week, and with the debate regarding school safety and gun control still going on in the House, it’s clear that with this endorsement and its framing, timing is everything.

Ron Salem clears $150K on hand in Jacksonville Council race

The money chase in the Jacksonville City Council at-large group 2 race continues to go Republican Ron Salem‘s way.

February saw Salem clear $150,000 cash on hand between hard money and lucre in his “Moving Jacksonville Forward” political committee.

Salem brought in $6,800 in new money to his campaign account in February, despite a $1,000 refund to Gate Petroleum.

The vast majority of the new money came from the energy sector and nursing home interests.

All told, Salem has over $143,500 on hand in his campaign account, and an additional $8,000 in his committee.

Salem is well ahead of his two opponents.

Former Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop has not filed February numbers yet but had just over $13,000 at the end of January.

And Democrat Darren Mason just launched his campaign in March.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry quietly launches re-election campaign

Except for a brief period of time when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was discussed as a possible Chief Financial Officer appointment, there has been little doubt that he would run for re-election.

The first inkling of that effort’s branding emerged Wednesday morning, via a new cover photo on his campaign Facebook page.

The second, more definitive nugget: Curry filing for re-election Wednesday morning.

The third indication: a new political committee, Jacksonville On the Rise, that will launch a six-figure tv and digital ad campaign today.

As was the case during his original campaign, the logo incorporates a bridge motif; the message is minimalistic: “Our mayor.”

For those familiar with the “One City, One Jacksonville” slogan, it’s clear that Curry will run as a uniter, not a divider, in his re-election bid.

In stark contrast to Curry’s predecessor, Alvin Brown, Curry will not allow other candidates to get traction before launching his re-election campaign.

As this writer described in a Folio Weekly column last week, there have been whispers that Curry may be vulnerable as a candidate.

However, Curry will marshal massive resources, support from throughout the community, and a record of meaningful reforms into his re-election bid.

Additionally, he can count on the unstinting support of the Florida Times-Union editorial page … which wasn’t necessarily the case until the very end of 2015 bid.

Who will dare challenge him?

That is the question that thus far has no answer.

City Council President Anna Brosche was dismissive: “This is the most non-news news I can think of: someone going through the normal process of running for re-election. Mayor Curry is doing what he intended to do. Not sure what there is to comment on.”

Finance Chair Garrett Dennis is “glad that Mayor Curry is thinking and considering his next four years. It is no surprise that he is keeping all options about his future on the table.”

Lisa King, chair of the Duval Democratic Party, noted that “as Mayor Curry sets his eyes towards re-election, the citizens of Jacksonville are still waiting for him to come clean on the JEA sale.”

“Time will tell whether we’ll get the open government we were promised. Until then, the Curry machine will continue what it knows best, deflection and distraction. We hope the Mayor will remember that sunshine is the best disinfectant in government,” King added.

Florida Politics is reaching out to other council members for comment, and attempting to secure an interview with Curry today.

Jacksonville City Council to honor muckraker Marvin Edwards

Of all the journalists to work the Jacksonville market, none had a more enduring scope than recently departed Marvin Edwards.

Edwards, who passed away at 96 years old and wrote bristling exposes of municipal boondoggles almost until the end, was a columnist, an essayist, and a quote machine.

Consider these lines from a 2001 article in Florida Trend.

“This city will take a beating on the Super Bowl,” Edwards predicted. And after the national articles maligning the city’s lack of cabs and hotels and first-rate entertainment options, he was right.

“The No. 1 job of government is to serve the general public, not special interests,” Edwards said. “Jacksonville has a reputation of serving the special interests first. It’s worse now than ever.”

Spoiler alert: it never got better.

He called the donor class the “syndicate,” and it’s only for lack of gumption among his peers that phrase didn’t stick.

Edwards’ ultimate target, at least this century, was spending on the Jacksonville Jaguars; he maligned the lack of accountability in spending on matters ranging from bringing the team to Jacksonville to the aforementioned ill-fated Super Bowl.

“The city pledged some $3 million to the event, and ultimately spent $11 million. But despite requests from several local papers and auditors to the Jacksonville City Council for a detailed financial accounting, city officials and the committee refused to provide receipts, contracts or other documentation. Although the committee was subsidized with city funds, staffed with several city employees and tasked with providing a public function on behalf of the city both the city and the committee claimed the agency’s records were not public.”

He was a gadfly. A muckraker. And the kind of journalist that doesn’t exist in this market anymore.

Now that he has passed on, it’s safe for the Jacksonville City Council to admit that he was right all along.

Resolution 2018-138 will commemorate Edwards’ life and accomplishments.

Among them: his work for the Office of Strategic Services; coverage of the Dachau Concentration Camp trial; exposure of funding discrepancies in Duval County Schools that ultimately led to the district losing accreditation, followed by city/county consolidation.

“Marvin Edwards spent decades as a self-appointed watchdog and citizen activist holding local government accountable for its stewardship of the best interests of the taxpayers, meticulously researching and doggedly critiquing major public projects and expenditures such as the Dames Point Bridge and the Automated Skyway Express in newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and television interviews …

“Mr. Edwards exemplified involved, informed citizen activism, and his research and writing over many decades contributed greatly to government accountability in Jacksonville.”

Duval GOP to vote to expel statewide Young Republican chair from its executive committee

The internecine battles continue in the Republican Party of Duval County. The latest involves the county chair looking to purge the statewide chair of the Young Republicans.

County chair Karyn Morton wrote Florida Federation of Young Republicans chair Robbie Foster March 3, informing him of a motion to vote him out March 19.

The cause: “highly disruptive outbursts” at the January meeting of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee. These were, per Morton, “the culmination of a pattern of disruptions over the past year … very loud outbursts and vulgar language … erratic behavior” that “frightened” REC stalwarts.

Morton offered Foster the chance to “avoid further embarassment” by resigning before the March meeting.

Foster has no intention of resigning, he told Florida Politics on Tuesday afternoon.

In fact, he sees the putsch as symbolic of a deeper issue with Morton’s leadership.

“With ever increasing news stories about how much the GOP has an uphill battle in front of us with the 2018 elections, it’s unbelievable that this is the nonsense that Chair Karyn Morton chooses to spend the Duval GOP’s time and efforts on,” Foster asserted.

“Not on defeating Bill Nelson. Not on electing a Republican Governor. Not on defending three open cabinet seats. No. Karyn is dedicating her efforts to expel someone who first joined in the REC in 2008. Someone who has been volunteering for the rec for a decade. Someone who also happens to be the Chairman of the Florida Young Republicans.”

“Way to court the youth vote, Karyn,” Foster quipped.

Foster went on to say Morton was “running the party into the ground.”

“Being REC chair of such a large and strategically important city such as Jacksonville is an awesome responsibility. I’ve seen some amazing people lead the party successfully. Since Karyn became chair she has demonstrated she is not up to the task. She has driven the party into the ground. Driven away donors so necessary to our grassroots efforts and driven away so many volunteers necessary to execute those grassroots efforts,” Foster said.

“And now she’s trying to expel someone who hasn’t left. Who has stayed because I hate to see an organization I’ve dedicated a decade of my life to fall apart and go from powerhouse to irrelevant at best and a joke at worst,” Foster added.

We await comment from the Duval GOP.

Jacksonville City Councilors Katrina Brown, Al Ferraro launch re-election bids

Let the “four more years” chants begin for two first-term Jacksonville City Council members.

On Tuesday, Democratic Councilwoman Katrina Brown launched her bid for re-election in District 8. Days before that, Republican Al Ferraro launched his re-election bid in District 2.

Brown and Ferraro face different paths to re-election.

Brown has issues other incumbents don’t. She has run afoul of the police union and has gotten tough coverage for a failed economic development deal from her family businesses.

Because of these perceived vulnerabilities, Brown faces a bevy of challengers: Diallo SekouSeabrooksMichael Sell, Brandon ByersJoenetta DixonTameka Gaines Holly, and Albert Wilcox are all in the race against her.

There had been some doubt as to whether Brown would run again or not, at least according to various opponents and consultants.

Brown didn’t address the issue last time we asked her about it in mid-January. Though in the form of a candidate looking for another term, she has consistently trumpeted her achievements on social media.

Jacksonville municipal elections involve a “first election” in March, a blanket primary that sees the top two finishers move on to the May election, assuming no one clears 50 percent + 1 in March.

Expect the District 8 race to go the distance.

In Ferraro’s race, one can expect much less drama.

Ferraro has been a steady presence for his district in council, advocating for issues such as drainage and other infrastructure.

His district is heavily Republican, and he is so far unopposed.

Kim Daniels’ NPA challenger touts fundraising in House race

State Rep. Kim Daniels, an iconoclastic Jacksonville Democrat, has the area’s political establishment behind her.

Among her January donors: members of the Rummell family, the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, and local dog track interests.

Daniels has nearly $16,000 cash on hand; however, her NPA opponent, Darcy Richardson, believes that he can be competitive in the November election.

Richardson claims to have raised “more than $6,100 as of yesterday. Most of those contributions will appear on my initial campaign finance filing covering the 12-13 days since opening my campaign account on February 16. The balance — approximately $1,400 — will be reflected in the month of March.”

“That’s more than Republican Christian Whitfield raised during the entire 2016 election cycle. I haven’t begun to do any serious fundraising yet — that’ll happen over the next couple of months — and despite the district’s unfavorable demographics, I’m confident that I’ll be able to raise enough to put up a fight against arguably one of the most reprehensible and outlandish state lawmakers in the country,” Richardson adds.

Jacksonville Democratic activists have discussed primarying Daniels, but any expectations of that should be tempered by the incumbent’s strong community support.

It remains to be seen if Daniels can be capsized by an NPA candidate also.

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