Today let’s play a parlor game called “Who’s doing what in local politics.”
Some would label such speculation “fake news.” I prefer the term “political gossip.”
It’s often wrong, but it’s sometimes right. Either way, it’s fun.
Let’s begin with the 5th Congressional District, which for decades was considered Jacksonville’s seat.
When the district lines were redrawn and Congresswoman Corrine Brown had legal difficulties, Al Lawson of Tallahassee swiped it in last year’s election. It’s a safe bet former Mayor Alvin Brown is going to try to get it back. But he may not be alone.
Mia Jones, a former City Council member and state representative who left the Legislature because of term limits, would be a strong candidate. And state Sen. Audrey Gibson has previously expressed interest in running for Congress.
That was just a warm-up.
Here’s the juicy gossip:
When Jeff Atwater announced he would leave his job as the state’s chief financial officer after the legislative session ends, Mayor Lenny Curry’s name popped up as a possible replacement.
Curry has a financial background, and he’s close to Gov. Rick Scott, who will appoint Atwater’s replacement.
In this game, it’s pointless to ask the subject of the speculation for a response because the usual answer is “never say never.”
It’s best to go to those who are paid to provide nuanced and glowing statements. In Curry’s case, that would be Brian Hughes, a top Curry adviser.
“LC isn’t lobbying for the job and likes the one he already has,” Hughes wrote in an email this week. “But saying yes or no to a hypothetical is never smart.”
Hughes added this:
“I worked both campaigns Atwater had for CFO. I am very familiar with the job. It’s big and it’s important and LC is one of a few people with the actual experience to do that job well.
“But he loves his city and he loves working every day to make it better.”
I told you these guys are good.
Some see a hint in the deadline Curry has set to get his pension changes completed.
That urgency could be related to preparing the next city budget, but it could give Curry an explanation for leaving: “My work is done here. I’ve saved the city from financial ruin (still to be determined), and I’m going to take my talents to Tallahassee.”
Why would Curry want the CFO job?
Being a member of the state Cabinet would provide statewide exposure that would help if he has political ambitions beyond the Mayor’s Office.
Some suggest that even visions of being governor are dancing in his head.
Reality check: With political power firmly planted in South and Central Florida, candidates from Jacksonville don’t fare well in statewide races. See Bruce Smathers (1978) and Steve Pajcic (1986).
If Curry did leave office early, who would be mayor?
This has happened before.
When Hans Tanzler ran for governor, Jake Godold was the City Council president and he moved into the Mayor’s Office.
If Curry were to resign before July 1, the current council president, Lori Boyer, would get the job until a special election was held.
If a resignation came after July 1 and the current council vice president, John Crescimbeni, a Democrat, moves into the presidency as usually happens, he would become mayor.
Whoa now! Republicans wouldn’t want that to happen. Interestingly, a Republican favorite, Councilwoman Anna Lopez Broche, is challenging Crescimbeni for the council presidency.
Who would run in a special election?
Daniel Davis, the JAX Chamber president, has always wanted the job.
And when John Delaney announced he was leaving the University of North Florida, he was asked if he would run for mayor again. Delaney’s answer was that the city already has a good mayor. But that barrier would be gone if Curry ...
What a tangled web!
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