Fact Check: ‘Stop Lenny Curry’ Mayoral Campaign Ad

Feb 7, 2019

The latest TV attack ad in the Jacksonville mayoral race has launched. This one is from the political action committee called A New Day that is supporting Anna Lopez Brosche’s campaign against incumbent Lenny Curry

Curry and Brosche, both Republicans, are the frontrunners in a six-way race.

In the 30-second spot released Wednesday, the sounds of constant gunfire and crying babies are the backdrop for an image of Curry and a series of quotes from local media about crime.

   

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The ad titled “Stop Lenny Curry” comes after the Jacksonville on the Rise PAC associated with Curry began airing its second negative political ad against City Councilwoman Brosche in mid-January.

The New Day ad plays into Brosche’s campaign theme that Jacksonville is in the midst of a “Curry crime wave.”

The New Day PAC ad attempts to place blame on Curry with the following claims:

  1. Violence is up in Jacksonville
  2. Jacksonville led Florida in mass shootings in 2018
  3. Jacksonville is among the least safe major cities in the U.S.

Claim: Violence Is Up In Jacksonville

In the 2015 mayoral election, then candidate Curry attacked former Mayor Alvin Brown for the increase in violent crime. At Curry’s urging last year, the City Council increased the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s budget to $439 million, up by $30 million from the previous year. Curry’s opponents argue despite an increase in police spending and new crime initiatives, the problem has only gotten worse.  

See Also: Jacksonville City Council Unanimously Approves Mayor’s $1.3 Billion Budget

The Florida Times Union - a WJCT news partner - reported in December that under Curry’s administration violence went up, slightly.

“The average murder rate increased nearly 12 percent during Curry’s term, and the county’s average violence rate increased one percent compared to the yearly averages from Brown’s tenure,” The Florida Times-Union said.

Claim: Jacksonville Led Florida In Mass Shootings In 2018

The ad states Jacksonville led Florida in mass shootings in 2018, citing a News4Jax story.

Last month, WJCT partner News4Jax reported Jacksonville led Florida in mass shootings in 2018. The story cites the Gun Violence Archive, an independent nonprofit that compiles and publishes a list of every mass shooting in the country.

Gun Violence Archives defines a “mass shooting” as a gun-related incident where four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter. Using GVA’s data, News4Jax reported, Jacksonville led Florida in 2018 with five mass shootings.

However, the Feb. 2, 2019, News4Jax story did not mention that according to the same data, Jacksonville is actually tied with Miami, which the GVA reports also had five mass shootings in 2018.

Jacksonville, however, did have more deaths and injuries than Miami as a result of the mass shootings.

Jacksonville had nine deaths and 24 injuries, compared to Miami’s four deaths and 21 injuries, according to GVA.

The same source said overall, there were 339 mass shootings nationwide, with 21 in Florida.

See Also: GVA's Interactive Map

Claim: Jacksonville Is Among Least Safe Major Cities In U.S.

The New Day ad quotes a December 5, 2018, News4Jax headline that reads “Jacksonville Among Least Safe Major Cities In US, Report Says.”

That story and its underlying survey, however, did not focus exclusively on violent crime. The survey News4Jax was reporting on was 2018’s “Safest Cities in America,” done by the personal finance website Wallethub.

Wallethub compared 182 cities, including 150 of the most populated cities, with at least two of the most populated cities in each state. But the factors Wallethub considered in its “Safe Cities” rankings included things like natural-disaster risk, and something called “financial safety.”  

As News4Jax reported, Wallethub ranked Jacksonville ranked 111 out of the 182 cities in safety.