On today’s "First Coast Connect," Melissa Ross interviewed incumbent Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown and Republican challenger Lenny Curry about their advance to a May runoff.
Brown was the top vote getter, with about 77,000 votes more than Lenny Curry in the unitary first election. For the next two months, he says he has a strategy.
"I am looking forward to discussing the issues on how to put Jacksonville first," Brown said. "I am going to fight for every vote."
Republican City Councilman Bill Bishop was eliminated from the mayor's race after pulling about 17 percent of the vote. Brown said Bishop and he are friends, and, while they do not agree on everything, "He does put Jacksonville first and I respect that."
Brown says he hopes to continue to work with Bishop, and he said, "I hope to show the people who supported him how I can serve them well," adding, "I will fight for the vote and fight for their support, including Bill’s."
Brown says he has a proven track record of working with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to "bring people together and improve the quality of life."
A.G. Gancarski, columnist for Folio Weekly and FloridaPolitics.com, and University of North Florida Professor Mike Binder also joined the show.
Binder said, "I thought that it was an interesting evening." He said the mayor's "leading the pack but still having to go until May" was expected in the race.
Based on the numbers, Gancarski said, "Bishop’s critiques of the mayor on things like the HRO [human rights ordinance], the pension, the taxes, the budget issues and so-on, clearly resonated." Bishop received 17 percent of the vote, and Brown received 43 percent. Gancarski said, "Lenny Curry’s people are looking to capitalize on that."
"Curry and Bishop are basically simpatico on issues; they are both agents of change," Gancarski said.
But Binder said, according to the polling work done last month, "It is not as clear cut as one might think." Bishop is a Republican who ran to the left of Alvin Brown. He received a lot of Democratic votes. Binder said he's "skeptical that Democrats are going to go to Lenny Curry."
Binder said, "The Democrats are really the interesting piece here. Do they go to Brown? Do they stay home? What do they do?"
Curry also joined the show. He said, going in to this race, he knew he was the "underdog." He said, "I went door to door almost every day, phone to phone, talking to voters face to face."
Curry said he remains the underdog. "I am grateful to be who I am, and I am going to continue with the plan."
He says he's also looking for Bishop's endorsement. "I want Bill Bishop's support. I want the support of everyone that voted for him," Curry said.
Curry said his strategy going forward is to "start with the folks who are energized and working directly with Bill Bishop."
Curry said it is "crystal clear that Jacksonville is at a crossroads right now." He said "I am the guy to lead us to better days."
Binder said Curry’s campaign was at an interesting position starting a year ago. "Nobody knew who he was locally," he said.
Independent mayoral candidate Omega Allen won 2 percent of votes last night. Binder says it will be interesting to see what happens to her voters.
Tuesday's sheriff election was also close. Democrat Ken Jefferson won 36.43 percent. Republican Mike Williams came in second with 22.28 percent.
Gancarski said, "I do expect to see Williams and Curry making a lot of appearances together."
Elections Supervisor Race
In the race to be supervisor of elections, Republican Mike Hogan edged out Democratic candidate Tracie Davis with 54.75 percent to her 45.26 percent. Hogan will replace Republican Jerry Holland, who ran unopposed to become the county's next property appraiser.
Gancarski said, "Hogan has the name recognition. He has credibility in the community. Tracie Davis made a competence-based case."
Binder said Davis’s problem was "There wasn’t a lot of money, there wasn’t a lot of attention put on this race." He said no one who hasn’t dealt with a supervisor knew who she was.
City Council Races
In the race for City Council At-Large Group 1, Republican Anna Brosche came in at 29.57 percent, second behind Democrat Kimberly Daniels, who got 35.34 percent.
Gancarski said, "Kim Daniels has a network support that is nationwide. She has a radio show that is five days a week."
Binder said, "Anna Brosche is in the runoff, and she does have a chance to gobble up the rest of Taylor’s votes." Republican David Taylor was eliminated with 24.96 percent. Binder predicts the runoff between Brosche and Daniels will be a very close race.
In the race for City Council At-Large Group 3, Democrat and former Mayor Tommy Hazouri came in ahead of Republican Geoff Youngblood at 44.81 percent to his 42.18 percent.
Gancarski said, "It shapes up well for Hazouri because he has the name recognition," adding, "Youngblood ran a faith-and-family-values-and-flag kind of campaign."
Gancarski says the mayoral race will factor heavily in the At-Large Group 3 race. He said, "If Curry can make the sail, that helps Youngblood. If Brown makes the sail that definitely helps Hazouri."
In the race for City Council At-Large Group 5, Democrat Ju'Coby Pittman almost won a majority with 46.03 percent. Two Republicans in that race took the tail, with 27.94 percent for Samuel C. Newby and 26.03 percent for Michelle Tappouni, who was eliminated.
Pittman will face Newby in May, and Binder says it was a surprise Pittman did so well. He said, "That's a big number," adding, "I think that is a seat that the Democrats can definitely hold."
Gancarski says Newby basically represented the Tea Party wing, and although he lacked money, he did have party support.
Pittman had the backing of Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who advised her to go for an at-large seat.
Binder said, "It looks like it was great advice. At this point, it looks like the congresswoman was picking well."
Listen to the podcast to hear the entire discussion with Mayor Alvin Brown, Lenny Curry, A.G. Gancarski and Mike Binder.