The man credited by many in Jacksonville for turning around Jacksonville’s republican herd in the direction of then-democratic candidate Alvin Brown two years ago, has decided this time give his financial support to a fellow republican.
According to an interview in the Florida Times, former St. Joe CEO Peter Rummell called Brown’s actions as Mayor “cowardly.” Citing Brown’s no tax pledge, his decision to leave the 2013 budget decisions to the City Council, and his failure to bring a plausible Pension Reform plan, as the chief reasons for his decision.
Rummell is an original member of the “non-group”, a set of business leaders and senior lobbyists who for a time have attempted to set the agenda for politics in Jacksonville. This group formalized their existence eight years ago by organizing the Civic Council, with an executive director and staff, to more publicly express their views on a variety of subjects that affect the city.
Why is this one non-endorsement significant? Alvin Brown was not the top choice for members of Rummell’s group, not even close. With the exception of the few African American members of the group such as the late dentist Chester Aikens, these gentlemen know little about any African American politicians save the ones that already hold office. Had they known more about Brown they would have endorsed him earlier than they did in 2010, but since he was a Democrat and the group is largely Republican, it wasn’t until it was clear that the then republican front runner-Mike Hogan-was proving to be a racial and cultural embarrassment, that the Non-Group threw their support to Brown. By that time Brown had already wrapped up the considerable Democratic vote in the County.
What is shaping up is the spectacle of a Black, Baptist, anti-tax, conservative Mayor facing a tax raising City Council led by republicans who want to raise taxes, criticize Brown at every turn, but make no proposals of their own(save to take their city back).
There is little doubt that the coming months at Jacksonville City Hall will be a land of political maneuvering and sniping between the executive and the legislative branches of government.
Two important figures have yet to announce their intentions to seek the city’s top spot: City Council President Bill Gulliford, who has made no secret of his displeasure with the way Mayor Brown and his staff has carried out their duties, will apparently wait until the new Council President is sworn in to make his formal announcement.
And then there is Sheriff John Rutherford. This conservative, law enforcement officer is favored by many to run for the city’s top spot, but the announcement by Rummell could put a huge crimp in his fundraising. History is not on his side for this race. Jacksonville voters have been loath to elect a Sheriff to the office of CEO of Jacksonville’s most important corporation.