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First Coast Connect

Outside Money In Jacksonville Mayor Race A Preview Of 2016

Cyd Hoskinson, Peter Haden

Lenny Curry’s win in Jacksonville’s mayoral election has Floridians talking about the upcoming presidential race in 2016.

During an appearance on WJCT's First Coast Connect, Susan MacManus, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida, discussed Florida’s role and some of the important factors for the presidential race.

“This is going to be the most expensive presidential race ever, and increasingly we’ve seen throughout Florida — not just Jacksonville — that local, big city and big county races have cost mega millions,” MacManus said.

She says Jacksonville’s mayoral race gave both Democrats and Republicans a preview on where campaign money might come from.

“A lot of people probably aren’t going to like where a lot of [the money] came from, but this is a national trend too,” MacManus said. “Most of the money for the big races now is coming from outside of Florida.”

She also said, even though most of the money will come from outside the state, Florida is home to some wealthy donors who are loyal to their political parties.

These Floridian donors are willing to spend thousands of dollars just to attend events hosted by the candidates.

“Florida is still considered by everybody as the most important, biggest swing state in the country,” MacManus said. “Of course, it’s more important to the Republicans — even more than the Democrats — because Republicans cannot win without it.”

MacManus said she believes that it would be very difficult for a Republican candidate to win the presidential election without Florida.

“I think every big city and every big metropolitan area is going to be a key battleground in the state of Florida,” MacManus said. “You have to put together the whole package, and each metropolitan area brings a slightly different configuration of population.”

According to MacManus, the challenge Democrats face in the upcoming election is lower turnout rates. She said this was one of the reasons Alvin Brown lost Jacksonville’s mayoral race.

“Democrats will look at what areas of the population they didn’t quite get the turnout level that they would need,” MacManus said. “Even relying some on Obama’s staff, Brown came up a little bit short.”

However MacManus also said that Jacksonville residents shouldn’t rely too much on the mayoral election’s turnout rates when making their predictions.

“Presidential races historically bring in very different turnout patterns,” MacManus said.

As the presidential candidates continue to campaign and the presidential primaries take place, Florida’s role in the election will continue to unfold.

Listen to the full conversation with Susan MacManus on today’s episode of the First Coast Connect podcast on iTunes.