Jax Archives - Page 6 of 476 - Florida Politics

Down 20 points in polls, Alvin Brown rallies his Jacksonville base

Months back, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown launched a Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.

The idea was to take back a “Jacksonville seat” from the Tallahassee Democrat — U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown lost to Lawson, months before an even more catastrophic loss (numerous guilty verdicts in a federal fraud trial).

The laconic Lawson was blunt about his challenger, saying Alvin Brown was “a failed mayor … just looking for a job,” and that Lawson would “retire” him from politics.

The latest polls suggest that Brown couldn’t make the sale. Surveys from University of North Florida and St. Pete Polls suggest this is a 20 point race, with Lawson having all the momentum west of 295, and with Brown unable to consolidate his Jacksonville base.

Indeed, Lawson enjoyed a number of important Jacksonville endorsements, critical to his race against former Mayor Alvin Brown. The local Fraternal Order of Police and Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters endorsed him, as did state Rep. Tracie Davis and the Florida Times-Union.

By every indication, the Brown campaign is in its last few days. However, a Thursday night rally of about 50 enthusiastic “true believers” suggested that they see a path forward.

The former Mayor came out to “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” the 70s Philly Soul classic that is a universal anthem of affirmation and spoke characteristically, describing the campaign’s “phenomenal opportunity to improve quality of life in the 5th Congressional District.”

Brown worked the crowd with call and response, the cadences of the church. Likewise familiar was at least one policy position — advocacy for a VA hospital in Jacksonville, a position Lawson took with legislation.

Brown, the first black Mayor of Jacksonville, was emphatic: “We will make history one more time.”

We asked Brown about the polls and the homestretch of the campaign, and he was enthusiastic, noting the campaign has knocked 15,000 doors in the last seven days.

“The bottom line is turnout. We have to get turnout up in Duval County,” Brown said.

One pollster, Michael Binder of University of North Florida, saw it differently: ““Roughly half of Congressional District 5 voters are in Duval County, and even though Brown is ahead by 18 percentage points in Duval, that isn’t nearly enough. Lawson is ahead by nearly 60 percentage points in the counties west of Duval.”

“We have a great opportunity,” Brown said. “I’m going every day. It’s all about the turnout. That’s the bottom line.”

Brown touted support from faith leaders last week; in recent days, three of them walked back their endorsements.

Brown, when asked, did not address that.

“I’m very proud and excited about the support I have from faith leaders,” Brown said.

Digital, radio, direct mail, knocking on doors and waving signs, said Brown, are the ways his campaign will engage voters.

There won’t be any TV spots.

Can ground game reverse trends that seem deeply seated in polling?

Time, as ever, will tell.

Brown and Lawson continued to raise money up until the end. Lawson brought in $15,400; Brown actually brought in almost $25,000.

While that helped to make up a deficit Brown faced in cash on hand as of the final pre-primary report Aug. 8 ($131,000 to $84,000), it’s clear the cavalry didn’t come on time — or with enough ammo to capsize an incumbent that the Congressional Democratic establishment (everyone from Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer to the Congressional Black Caucus) rallied behind.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates decry triple-shooting at Jacksonville high school

A triple shooting in Jacksonville at a football game between Lee and Raines High Schools left one dead, two wounded, and brought forth lamentations of the violence that seem all too familiar.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was the first candidate for Governor to address the violence Saturday morning.

Gillum said that the “shooting at Raines High School is another senseless tragedy in this countless, unacceptable gun violence epidemic.

“I’m deeply saddened that the beginning of this school year has begun under a cloud of violence, and we must take smart, common-sense measures to keep our children safe. As Governor, I’ll work directly with our school districts to ensure they have the support they need,” Gillum added.

Soon thereafter, Gwen Graham and Philip Levine responded to a video of a grieving survivor, calling for gun law reform.

 

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown (a candidate in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, of which Raines is a part) likewise had a response, rendered via Twitter.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, Brown’s opponent, likewise had a response.

 

State Sen. Audrey Gibson, the next leader of the party in the Senate, likewise offered a statement to television media Saturday.

One response — that from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry — was late in coming, as Councilman Garrett Dennis observed.

But Curry did put out a statement in the early afternoon, stressing that “we must redouble our commitment to showing young people that crime and violence is not the path.”

“For those who do not understand that fact,” he said, “I will continue my support for law enforcement personal and programs that ensure that perpetrators of crime pay the full force of the criminal justice system.”

Curry ran on a public safety platform three years ago, and attributes the unabated murder rate increase to former Mayor Brown cutting police positions earlier this decade.

Dennis’ trolling Tweet seems to be a response to this sentimental reflection from the Republican Mayor.

 

Frontrunners emerge in race to replace Ron DeSantis: Nancy Soderberg, Mike Waltz lead in cash, polls

After an interesting summer in both parties’ primaries in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, some clarity in the cash race has emerged as early voting continues.

And after the pre-primary reports were released Aug. 8, it was clear that the fundraising headed up to the primary reflected the realities of how the field is shaking out, with one Democrat and one Republican leading in the fundraising battle.

In the Democratic race, Ambassador Nancy Soderberg had — as of Aug. 8 — amassed what appears to be an insurmountable lead in cash on hand over her Democratic opponents, with $1,096,754 on hand ($1.707,296 raised).

Dr. Stephen Sevigny, a radiologist from Ormond Beach, had $353,534 on hand ($874,212 raised). Farther back still, John Upchurch had $131,332 on hand.

Soderberg raised roughly $60,000 between Aug. 8 and the primary, compared to $5,000 for Sevigny and nothing for Upchurch.

Soderberg also is stretching a significant lead in the only public poll of the race. The most recent St. Pete Polls survey shows her as the choice of 50 percent of those surveyed, 31 points up on Sevigny and 38 points over Upchurch.

Similar clarity, though of a somewhat less pronounced degree, can be found on the Republican side, with St. Augustine Beach’s Mike Waltz with more cash on hand than his GOP challengers John Ward of Ponte Vedra Beach and former state Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach.

Waltz had as of Aug. 8 $286,706 on hand of his $1,066,996 raised, well ahead of Ward ($76,887 on hand; $1,076,400 raised) and Costello ($7,962 on hand; $254,683 raised).

Waltz brought in another $60,000 down the stretch ($25,000 a personal loan) after that Aug. 8 report. Ward put in $50,000 of his own money, while Costello added no cash.

Waltz is also getting outside help: the American Patriots PAC is spending $277,000 on ads against Ward, the biggest spend by any outside group in this race, and perhaps a taste of third-party engagement in this race ahead of November.

A survey from a week ago showed Waltz with 40 percent support, with Ward in second place at 21 percent and Costello at 16 percent.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, though open as U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is poised to become the Republican nominee for Governor.

The district hugs the Atlantic Coast, extending from southern St. Johns County through Flagler and much of Volusia.

HD 15 Republicans slog through brutal primary, with strong Democrat awaiting in general

The three-way Republican race in Westside Jacksonville’s House District 15 between Wyman DugganJoseph Hogan, and Mark Zeigler started slowly.

But with Early Voting wrapping up this weekend, the race has devolved into a series of recriminations and character assassinations, with two relatively underfunded candidates scoring some hits against the candidate backed by pillars of the Jacksonville Establishment ranging from the Mayor to the Chamber.

In the end, the election may be uglier than the 2014 Special Election primary clash between incumbent Rep. Jay Fant and then-challenger Paul Renner, a two-vote win for Fant after a campaign that got more personal and bitter as it went on.

The discourse in this campaign has had a surprising frankness, with Duggan drawing fire for his ties to Jacksonville’s City Hall, with special focus on his career as a lobbyist.

Yet, despite the sprightly hit mailers from political committees, the three candidates had not publicly commented on the committee carnage until Friday, with Zeigler posting to Facebook an “open letter” responding to a political committee mailer.

“I am not perfect,” Zeigler wrote, regarding a “desperate, last minute political mailing letting you know just how imperfect I am.”

“This piece sent to you by a sleazy Central Florida dark money group run by a disgraced political operative seeks to paint me as something that I am not and makes several mischaracterizations, false statements and downright lies about me,” Zeigler asserted.

The mailer, from “Central Florida Republicans for Truth,” dinged Zeigler for being late paying his property taxes and having two tax liens on him. That latter claim, per Zeigler, is “a lie plain and simple.”

Zeigler also accounted for a personal bankruptcy filing thirty years ago, after 1987’s “Black Monday” crash.

“After the global financial crash, the industry went through a significant contraction and I was left with no income and no prospects. At this time I was advised by an attorney that in order to get my affairs in order I should declare bankruptcy. I did this, paid my debts and found a career that led to my current business. No one was left holding the bag,” Zeigler said, before levying charges of his own about “this despicable Never Trump group from Central Florida attacking me.”

“It is really quite simple. Their chosen candidate, lobbyist Wyman Duggan, is losing and they can’t afford for that to happen,” Zeigler said, adding that 76 percent of Duggan’s campaign funds come from outside of the district.

Ziegler charges Duggan wants to “take away your right to vote for your Duval County School Board representative … wants professional politicians to stay in office longer so that they (he) can benefit from tax payer funded health care and pension programs … has been paid by a foreign company to guarantee that our JEA is sold.”

“And finally they do not want you to know that if elected to the office of State Representative, Mr. Duggan will have a statewide platform from which to market his services as a lobbyist to the Jacksonville City Council,” Zeigler asserts (charges echoed by mailers from Zeigler-friendly West Jax Conservatives United).

Duggan’s lobbying for Canada’s Emera in potential sale discussions of the utility has been noted on political committee mailers in this race, and those close to the Zeigler campaign believe the third party attack mailer to which Zeigler objects is because Duggan is losing the race.

Duggan’s campaign was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon.

Public polling of this race has yet to surface. However, the attacks suggest the race is not decided.

Meanwhile, another recent mailer from “Central Florida Republicans for Truth” slammed Hogan for his support for former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown in the 2015 race against Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who backs Duggan.

Hogan “stands with anti-Trump progressives,” the mailer charges, as Hogan said Jacksonville was “better off” with Brown.

The Duggan bet seems to be that district voters need reminding of that particular deviation from doctrine. Meanwhile, Hogan remarks that “my opponent has spent about as much money on negative and misleading mailers as we have on our whole campaign.”

The use of Central Florida Republicans for Truth is interesting, given the location of that committee and the fact that it didn’t report Northeast Florida money through Aug. 10, the last date for which campaign finance totals are available for the committee.

The fundraising reports for the period ending Aug. 23 were not available Friday afternoon, and chairman Jacob Milich couldn’t be reached by phone.

The irony is that this divisive battle may make post-primary healing a tough sell, at a time when there is a very serious general election challenger.

Democrat Tracye Polson has roughly $150,000 in hard money and another $55,000 in the committee account. She will have buy-in from the state party and has personal resources that just might be able to match whatever buy-in the Jacksonville business community would offer Duggan.

If one of the other two candidates wins, it likewise is far from certain that financial support would be as robust as it would for Duggan.

The district is almost perfectly purple: of the 103,293 voters in HD 15, there are 39,997 Republicans and 40,323 Democrats. The rest are third party and NPA, and one wonders how receptive they will be to Republican messaging against a Democratic pragmatist who has support from Jacksonville’s public safety unions and even Republicans like Audrey Moran.

____________

Strategic donations for Rob Bradley, Travis Cummings committees down the stretch

Political committees for two prominent Clay County legislators (state Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley and state Rep. Travis Cummings) had some interesting spending between Aug. 11 and Aug. 23, newly filed reports show.

Bradley’s Working for Florida’s Families committee doled out $25,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis during the period.

Bradley endorsed DeSantis this month as “a proven conservative who will make a great Governor … an Iraq veteran with a solid conservative record and the support of our President.”

The committee took in more than that, $67,500, including $25,000 from Florida Blue and $25,000 from Centene Corporation, a subsidiary of which just signed a Medicaid contract with the state of Florida this year.

Centene’s Sunshine Health brand will “provide physical and behavioral health care services through Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care (SMMC) Program …  [until] September 2023 … as Florida’s sole Child Welfare Specialty Plan in all 11 regions while increasing the geographic area in which Sunshine Health may provide comprehensive (MMA and LTC) managed care to all 11 regions of the state.”

Bradley’s committee has over $600,000 on hand for the post-primary battles.

Cummings’ First Coast Conservatives committee doled out $100,000 during the two week period to the Florida GOP’s House Majority 2018 committee.

Cummings’ committee, which has roughly $400,000 on hand, got $10,000 from Centene in the two-week period. Worth noting: he chairs the Health & Human Services Committee.

Jacksonville Bold for 8.24.18 — Closing time

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Those of a certain age will recall the Semisonic earworm “Closing Time.”

It is also where we stand in primary season.

We already know what races we are tracking election night. In some, there is enough confidence in the results to have a sense of what the copy will say.

Sure, we’re open to surprises. But with polls and campaign finance reports and connections to most campaigns in the area, there just aren’t many shocks coming.

Another relevant line from the hit: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

On Aug. 29, the candidates and their operatives on the losing side will face decisions. Some ops will get hired elsewhere. Losing candidates will resolve how best to make their endorsements and figure out their next move, with dreams dashed — potentially forever, in some cases.

“So, gather up your jackets, and move it to the exits.”

Right now, on the campaign trail (outside of a TV studio), this sentiment also applies.

While there will be plenty of time for campaign autopsies, they will be forgotten quickly enough. Unity rallies will attempt to spackle over turf wars. And this November will look (more or less) like they always do in election years that promise turnover in the state Cabinet and — perhaps — a new U.S. Senator.

In the primary wars, it’s definitely closing time.

Lawson leads Brown in CD 5 cash chase

Conditions are looking favorable for U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to win his primary battle over former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown in Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Alvin Brown never seemed to find his groove.

Lawson, ahead by more than 20 points in the only public poll of the race, endorsed by Brown’s local Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville state Rep. Tracie Davis in recent days, is also ahead in cash on hand as of Aug. 8 — the last date for which candidates have filed financial reports.

Lawson, who has raised just over $503,823, had $131,143 on hand. Brown, who has raised $388,649, had $84,361.

Lawson seems confident in his chances, posting to Facebook that “FiveThirtyEight’s ongoing forecast of 2018 House elections currently places me at a 99.9 percent chance of winning back the 5th District seat.”

Indeed.

Brown has touted endorsements from Jacksonville preachers: “more than 30 faith leaders representing a large swath of the local faith community.”

However, three of those preachers have walked back those endorsements, in an abundance of caution over the churches’ 501(C)(3) statuses.

Soderberg, Waltz look like best bets in CD 6

After an interesting summer in both parties’ primaries in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, some clarity in the cash race has emerged as early voting continues.

In the Democratic race, former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg has — as of Aug. 8 — amassed what appears to be an insurmountable lead in cash on hand over her Democratic opponents, with $1,096,754 on hand ($1.707,296 raised).

Nancy Soderberg has proved to be a big league fundraiser this cycle.

Stephen Sevigny, a radiologist from Ormond Beach, had $353,534 on hand ($874,212 raised). Farther back still, John Upchurch, an Ormond Beach lawyer, had $131,332 on hand.

Soderberg also is stretching a significant lead in the only public poll of the race. The most recent St. Pete Polls survey released this weekend, shows her as the choice of 50 percent of those surveyed, 31 points up on Sevigny and 38 points over Upchurch.

Similar clarity, though of a somewhat less pronounced degree, can be found on the Republican side of the ledger, with St. Augustine Beach’s Mike Waltz with more cash on hand than his GOP challengers John Ward of Ponte Vedra Beach and former state Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach.

Waltz had as of Aug. 8 $286,706 on hand of his $1,066,996 raised, well ahead of Ward ($76,887 on hand; $1,076,400 raised) and Costello ($7,962 on hand; $254,683 raised).

A survey from a week ago showed Waltz with 40 percent support, with Ward in second place at 21 percent and Costello at 16 percent.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, though it’s open because U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is poised to become the Republican nominee for Governor.

‘Walk it like I talk it’

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, addressing a packed nightclub in Jacksonville Tuesday, may be surging at the right time.

With the latest survey from St. Pete Polls of the Democratic race for Governor indicating that Gillum is within six points of front-runner Gwen Graham (and a private poll showing Gillum at 33 percent, 11 points above the field), a coalition of progressive groups announced Monday that they will commit $3.5 million to help Gillum get over the finish line.

Andrew Gillum has withstood slings and arrows, and is still in the game.

His strategy has been to expand the voter universe; however, as he has noted, resources had previously precluded him from letting his target voters know who he is.

Gillum, when asked about the new polls swinging his way, noted that his campaign didn’t begin its “paid communication until two weeks ago.”

“We knew that because we couldn’t match the financial resources of the other campaigns, that we had to wait until the iron was really hot before we could strike and maximize our message. As voters are learning that we are a real option in this race,” Gillum said, “they’re choosing us.”

“I believe it’s going to be that momentum that will surge us through [to the nomination],” Gillum said.

Regarding the third-party groups backing him, Gillum noted that while he wasn’t deeply “familiar with what the outside groups are doing,” he hopes that “the $3.5 million investment will be directed toward the field.”

“That’s the best bang for the buck at this point, to get to voters and move those voters to the ballot box. If we do that,” Gillum said, “and they do that, we win.”

Curry favors Troutman

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry made another late-game endorsement in a statewide race Monday, backing Rep. Baxter Troutman for Agriculture Commissioner.

Baxter Troutman has some strong Jacksonville connections.

This endorsement indicates the value of relationships. Curry’s chief of staff Brian Hughes had been running the Troutman campaign before Hughes took a city job. Now, the operation is run by another Jacksonville op, Carlo Fassi.

The timing of the endorsement’s release seems less than coincidental, counterprogramming Sen. Marco Rubio campaigning Monday in Hialeah for Rep. Matt Caldwell, one of Troutman’s three opponents (whose campaign manager Brian Swensen had the same role in Curry’s 2015 campaign for Jacksonville Mayor).

Curry, per a statement from the Troutman campaign, is “happy to endorse Baxter Troutman … a farmer and rancher, a businessman who has created thousands of jobs, and … a genuine conservative.”

“Of all those seeking this job,” Curry emphasized, “Baxter is clearly the most qualified and ready to help keep Florida growing.”

In accepting the endorsement, Troutman noted Curry’s “proven record of problem-solving.”

“He’s demonstrated that executives can implement conservative policies, stand by their convictions, and get things done despite our current heated political climate,” Troutman remarked.

Campaign manager Fassi asserts that the Troutman campaign is poised to win, leading “outside the margin of error in every statewide poll conducted in this primary to succeed Adam Putnam.”

“Our internals have had Baxter anywhere from 6-10 points ahead of our nearest competitor,” Fassi adds, “while industry polls have shown the race even less competitive.”

Outside help for Wright in HD 14

The Democratic race in House District 14 between incumbent Rep. Kim Daniels and Duval County School Board chair Paula Wright continues to get more interesting as the primary approaches.

Paula Wright is on the base path, but can she score?

Wright, whose campaign account fundraising has been lackluster ($25,085 raised through Aug. 10; just over $12,000 on hand) is enjoying a television ad buy from the New Direction Now political committee.

The spot hits positive, autobiographical themes, including addressing former teacher Wright’s commitment to education.

Through Aug. 10, the committee has been seeded with $27,000. Of that sum, $15,000 comes from the Florida Education Association.

It’s telling that the FEA has funded a positive spot for Wright, as Daniels’ attempts at educational policy improvements in her two years in Tallahassee have been idiosyncratic and seemingly unaligned with the agendas of most public-school advocates.

One Daniels’ bill passed in the 2017 session: House Bill 303, the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” would ban school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, and school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” and would require a school district “to adopt limited public forum policy and deliver a disclaimer at school events.”

A 2018 Daniels’ bill, which also passed, likewise blurred the boundaries between the pulpit and pupils, requiring all schools to display the state motto, “In God We Trust,” in a “conspicuous place.”

Daniels, who has benefited from contributions from Gary Chartrand and Charter Schools USA, seems to have an agenda at odds with traditional education interests.

No runaway winner in tax collector tangle

A week out from the primary election in the four-way race for Duval County Tax Collector, campaign finance reports reveal a surprisingly competitive money race.

Jim Overton is in the primary mix, but will he be around afterward?

The three Republicans in the race — Jacksonville City Councilman Doyle Carter, state Rep. Lake Ray, and former property appraiser Jim Overton — all had roughly $60,000 cash on hand as of Aug. 21.

Carter, who raised $2,050 in the week leading up to Aug. 10, has just under $60,000 on hand of the $81,550 he has raised.

Ray, who has been the most aggressive candidate in the race, including attacking Overton for mistakes made as property appraiser, currently has the least money of the three: just over $55,000 on hand of the $155,375 he raised.

Ray raised $1,400 in the week leading up to Aug. 10, including donations from Carter’s City Council colleague Danny Becton. His spending has been eye-popping: almost $100,000 doled out ahead of the Aug. 28 election.

Overton, meanwhile, has just under $60,000 on hand also, after a $1,575 week leading up to Aug. 10.

Three Republicans headed into a blanket primary with Democrat Mia Jones likely only have one ticket to the November general election between them.

Jones lags behind the trio, with roughly $30,000 on hand, but because she’s the only Democrat on the ballot, she stands a strong chance of getting the most votes next week.

Too late to expand early voting?

On Monday, a group of Jacksonville Democrats made their push to expand early voting sites to local colleges and universities.

The goal: to get early voting sites at the University of North Florida and, perhaps, other colleges.

However, logistical roadblocks remain.

Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan told local media that “criteria of selection of an early voting site involves more than just that it is available. Public access, adequate parking for our staff and voters, facility security, ADA compliance, proximity to other early voting sites and of course do we have the money budgeted for an additional location.”

Mike Hogan has not been given the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

Hogan noted that he and University of North Florida have been working to find a way forward on an early voting site, but the logistics mentioned have proved to be prohibitive.

Edward Waters and Jacksonville University are also under consideration, but “time is very limited” given the scope of the election.

“The Russians are in our database,” Hogan added. “All we know is what the Senators have told us and they can’t give us real information.”

The primary election, Hogan added, won’t be over until Sept. 10 or 11, when results are certified. On Oct. 7, the final list of early voting sites has to be submitted to the Secretary of State office.

Personnel note

Sen. Aaron Bean adds Chesten N. Goodman — Goodman will be Bean’s new district legislative assistant, responsible for handling legislative policy matters. Goodman previously worked for Rep. Jay Fant as his legislative assistant after graduating from Florida State University. He is currently completing his final semester of graduate studies at Florida State to get a graduate degree in American Politics and Policy. “Chesten’s prior legislative experience in the Florida House made him the obvious choice for filling the vacancy in our office,” said Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican. He represents Senate District 4, which includes parts of Nassau and Duval counties.

Special election challenge rejected

David Taylor, a former Jacksonville City Council Republican candidate who has not been immune to controversy over the years, saw his lawsuit against the Duval County Supervisor of Elections thrown out Tuesday by Judge Robert M. Foster.

David Taylor likened the decision to “communism” in a statement after Judge Robert Foster’s ruling.

Taylor’s charge: The special election in District 12 was not publicly announced in a publication of record, one that saw the only qualified candidate, Republican Randy White, win without opposition.

Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel framed the decision to throw the case out as a victory for the consolidated government.

“In summary, the plaintiff, David Taylor, sought to invalidate the special election because he claims he was not provided notice of the qualifying period established by the City Council. In misapplying state statute, Mr. Taylor argued that the Supervisor of Elections was required to publish notice of the election in the newspaper because there is a requirement for such notice to occur in special elections called by the Governor and Florida Secretary of State,” Gabriel asserted Tuesday.

“The complete dismissal of Mr. Taylor’s complaint is significant because the Court reviewed the requirements necessary to set a local special election for Council vacancies and acknowledged all of our arguments that it is the City Charter and local Ordinance Code that dictate the requirements of the special local election, and such were followed,” Gabriel added.

In a seven-page decision, the court repeatedly struck down Taylor’s petitions for relief, effectively saying that even if there were a legitimate petition for redress, it couldn’t be provided in a timely way.

JEA wants out of Plant Vogtle

According to WSAV in Savannah, Jacksonville’s municipal-owned utility JEA wants out of the Plant Vogtle deal.

The controversial accord, set a decade ago, obligated JEA to buy electricity from two reactors that were at the beginning of the construction process.

Can JEA dump this deal? Stay tuned.

“Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) says it wants out and is urging MEAG to vote “no” on any continuation of the new reactors. In a letter to MEAG CEO James Fuller, JEA … wrote that ‘a decision to continue (the new reactors) cannot be justified on any rational basis.’”

A clean energy advocate quoted in the Savannah market piece noted that “staying locked on to this sort of sinking ship means you’re going to pull your ratepayers down and so I think JEA is ready to jump ship.”

Getting out of the deal could cost JEA $1.5 billion, but would represent savings of at least $750 million, per the Florida Times-Union.

Fall semester begins at UNF

As the fall semester begins at the University of North Florida, it’s not just a new school year for the incoming freshmen. Monday was the first day for President David Szymanski.

Welcome back!

Szymanski, who previously served as dean of the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati, is taking the reins from John Delaney, who retired in May.

While Delaney is now in the private sector, he will not be soon forgotten. The student union is named after the former president, among the many changes returning students will notice.

Also new are renovations to Skinner-Jones Hall, with upgraded classrooms and research labs for engineering and computing.

UF Health TraumaOne nationally recognized

University of Florida Health has received national recognition as a level I trauma center by the American College of Surgeons, the health system announced last week.

The Chicago-based association assesses trauma facilities to help hospitals improve care and to provide an objective, external performance review with stringent criteria, reports the Jacksonville Business Journal. The process includes a peer review team spending two days at the facility to evaluate policies, resources, patient care and other performance metrics. The designation is for three years.

UF Health Jacksonville gets national recognition.

In operation since 1983, UF Health TraumaOne, at 655 8th St. W., is one of 10 level 1 trauma centers in Florida — the only one of its type in Northeast Florida, and just one of three trauma centers in Duval County.

Other trauma facilities include Wolfson Children’s Hospital, which specializes in pediatrics, and Memorial Hospital, which also received level II designation in 2018.

Gorillas find new home at Jacksonville Zoo

A family of gorillas moved home this week, part of the Jacksonville Zoo’s new African Forest exhibit, which is set to open Aug. 31.

The gorillas — father, named Lash; mother, named Madini; and baby gorilla, named Patty — were released into the display after a year of renovations, reports News4Jax.

Welcome home! (Image via WJXT News4Jax)

The new African Forest habitat replaces the Great Apes Loop, which has been around for nearly 20 years. Renovations include additional viewing windows, water features for the animals and new homes for bonobos and lemurs.

Jaguars considering trade offer for Fowler

During the long, hot practices of NFL training camps, tempers tend to flare. Fights break out, like they did when Dante Fowler, Jr. tangled with two teammates in separate incidents two weeks ago.

The second one, featuring Fowler and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, led to the former Gator’s suspension. Subsequent events indicate this may be more than just a skirmish that blows over.

Dante Fowler Jr. has had multiple run-ins with the law.

This week, news broke that the Jaguars were contacted by the New York Jets about a possible trade for Fowler. The name offered in return was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is trying to return to the NFL after a devastating leg injury two years ago.

When he was hurt, Bridgewater was already showing signs of becoming a dynamic NFL quarterback. After his contract expired last year, the Jets signed him.

Fowler also had to overcome a serious injury. After being the third overall pick, he suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first day of rookie minicamp.

The Jaguars could be looking for a solid backup for Blake Bortles at quarterback and have someone with NFL experience who could fill in if Bortles is injured. In addition, the team is well-stocked on the defensive side of the ball, making an addition to the offense something worth considering.

If the fight is more than just a training camp skirmish and the Jaguars are looking to promote locker room harmony, Bridgewater would be a good option. He is not known for having a flamboyant personality.

At first glance, such a trade might not appear to provide a fair return for the Jaguars. Bridgewater has yet to prove he is fully recovered.

There are two more preseason games remaining. Jaguars’ fans will have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Jacksonville Young Democrats endorse Paula Wright in HD 14

In yet another sign that establishment Duval Democrats want to bounce incumbent Rep. Kim Daniels in House District 14, the Jacksonville Young Democrats endorsed her primary opponent, Paula Wright, this week.

The JYD nod continues a trend of establishment support for Wright over Daniels, with Democratic elected officials, including Sen. Audrey Gibson, state Rep. Tracie Davis, and Councilman Garrett Dennis having already endorsed Wright.

Daniels, who has had her share of scandals and apostasies from Democratic orthodoxy, is seen as beatable by those close to Wright. The key to victory is educating voters on Daniels’ true positions. The final count on Aug. 28 will speak to the viability of that strategy.

As of Aug. 10, the last date for which campaign finance data is available, Daniels had roughly $4,700 on hand. She has spent most of the $57,000+ raised on incidentals, running a timid campaign with few appearances at community forums.

The Florida Times-Union endorsed Wright after Daniels no-showed the candidate interview, complete with “Wright is the right choice in HD 14” wordplay in the headline.

Wright, as of Aug. 10, had roughly $13,000 in hard money. Additionally, she has gotten help from a supportive political committee.

The New Direction Now political committee has $27,000 raised to support Wright, $15,000 of that from the Wright-friendly Florida Education Association.

Daniels was first elected to the Northwest Jacksonville seat in 2016, winning a five-way Democratic primary with roughly 35 percent of the vote, before going on to win the general election with 65 percent.

Latest poll shows Al Lawson obliterating Alvin Brown in CD 5 primary

A new poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab asserts that U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of Florida’s 5th Congressional District is headed toward a blowout win over Democratic primary challenger Alvin Brown.

The UNF survey of 402 likely Democratic primary voters shows Lawson has the support of 48 percent with just 29 percent backing Brown. Meanwhile, 22 percent of those surveyed are undecided.

UNF polling director Michael Binder notes that “Brown supporters might point to the large number of undecided voters as potential supporters, but late deciders never swing entirely for one candidate.”

Brown simply hasn’t gotten it done in Duval County, according to Binder, when it comes to amassing the kind of voter share that would overcome Lawson out west.

“Roughly half of Congressional District 5 voters are in Duval County, and even though Brown is ahead by 18 percentage points in Duval, that isn’t nearly enough. Lawson is ahead by nearly 60 percentage points in the counties west of Duval,” Binder said.

Alvin Brown’s margin, the survey shows, is underperforming former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who beat Lawson in 2016 by 40 percent in Duval, yet lost by 9 percent overall.

In Duval, Alvin Brown is up 48 to 29 percent. Outside of Duval, Alvin Brown enjoys an anemic 10 percent level of support, remarkable given Brown’s claim to have been campaigning districtwide.

Binder notes Brown “needs to be +40 or +50 in Duval to have a chance and it’s not close.”

Alvin Brown has been hamstrung by Jacksonville endorsements, including from the Florida Times-Union, the local police and fire unions, and Rep. Tracie Davis, going Lawson’s way. As another vouchsafe of Lawson’s position, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came to Jacksonville on his behalf.

Interestingly, both Brown and Lawson supporters back Andrew Gillum for Governor. Districtwide, the Tallahassee Mayor enjoys 31 percent support, essentially doubling Gwen Graham at 16 percent.

The UNF poll jibes with the only other public poll of this race:  a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released earlier this month.

A survey of 445 likely Democratic primary voters showed Lawson with 50 percent of the vote, with Brown at 28 percent.

Jacksonville preachers walk back Alvin Brown congressional endorsements

Heading into the weekend, Alvin Brown touted endorsements from Jacksonville preachers: “more than 30 faith leaders representing a large swath of the local faith community.”

This week, three of those preachers have walked their endorsements back for logistical reasons, saying that the listing of their churches in the endorsement emails compromised their organizations’ nonprofit status.

The narrative started when Pastor Reginald Gundy of the Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church contacted Florida Politics saying he didn’t endorse Brown, a former Jacksonville Mayor running for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Gundy said he asked the campaign to “take [his] name off” the list of endorsers, noting that he is “not endorsing Lawson or Brown, that is the statement for the record because of my organization of 501(C)(3) period,” and that he made an “honest error” when he signed a letter of endorsement in January, one that the campaign produced.

On Tuesday, a second pastor, the Rev. Wendell C. Webster, reached out to Florida Politics to walk back his endorsement.

“While I have known the candidate, Alvin Brown for many years and believe that he is a viable candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, District 5, I did not give permission to use the name of my church, New Fountain Chapel AME Church,” Webster wrote.

“I strongly oppose the use of my church’s name in any and all political ads and endorsements. As a not-for-profit5 01(C)(3) organization,” Webster added, “it is our standard policy and practice to not [engage] in political activities.”

On Wednesday, Rev. Tan C. Moss of the Greater Grant Memorial AME Church became the third pastor to walk back his endorsement.

“While I initially made a personal endorsement of candidate Brown, at no time was my church included or should have been assumed to be a part [of] that endorsement,” Moss said. “I have been assured by the candidate that this error will be immediately rectified and my [personal] endorsement has been withdrawn as a result of the confusion.”

The race increasingly looks like a comfortable win for incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, per a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday that shows him with a 22-point lead, and his own assertions that FiveThirtyEight.com gave him a 99.8 percent chance to win.

Brown, who had $84,000 cash on hand as of Aug. 8, is still fundraising. On Tuesday morning, he sent out an appeal to supporters to help him continue an ad buy for a digital spot.

Tight money race in Duval County Tax Collector contest

A week out from the primary election in the four-way race for Duval County Tax Collector, campaign finance reports reveal a surprisingly competitive money race.

The three Republicans in the race — Jacksonville City Councilman Doyle Carter, state Rep. Lake Ray, and former Property Appraiser Jim Overton — all had roughly $60,000 cash on hand as of Aug. 21.

Carter, who raised $2,050 in the week leading up to Aug. 10, has just under $60,000 on hand of the $81,550 he has raised.

Ray, who has been the most aggressive candidate in the race, including attacking Overton for mistakes made as Property Appraiser, currently has the least money of the three: just over $55,000 on hand of the $155,375 he raised.

Ray raised $1,400 in the week leading up to Aug. 10, including donations from Carter’s City Council colleague Danny Becton. His spending has been eye-popping: almost $100,000 doled out ahead of the Aug. 28 election.

Overton, meanwhile, has just under $60,000 on hand also, after a $1,575 week leading up to Aug. 10.

The three Republicans, headed into a blanket primary with Democrat Mia Jones, likely only have one ticket to the November general election between them.

Jones lags behind the three, with roughly $30,000 on hand, but as the sole Democrat on the ballot, she stands a strong chance of having the most votes next week.

At this writing Tuesday afternoon, Democrats have a slight turnout advantage over Republicans.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons