FIGHTIN' WORDS

Wait 'Til NEXT Year

Forecasting the #jaxpol future

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Covering politics in this town is like watching freshly caught crabs in a bucket. They might be calm for a minute. But eventually, one crab makes a move—and that’s when things get interesting.

With state and Congressional elections next year, lots of politicos are making moves. But will those moves matter? Let’s take a look … .

Crumbs: A big drama early last week revolved around Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg taking to the Florida Times-Union to say what so many others in City Hall say privately.

Mandarin Matt’s take is that the Duval Delegation brought home mere “crumbs” for Jacksonville from the state’s $83B budget. And that the delegation were lapdogs for leadership in the legislature, as proved by backing a play to increase the homestead exemption by $25K—which would take roughly $27M out of the city’s ad valorem taxes.

Delegation members rejected this out of hand, with Sens. Audrey Gibson and Aaron Bean noting that Schellenberg wasn’t quite so aggro during in-session meetings with them in Tallahassee. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also got in on the act, saying that he and the delegation communicated well, and the city got what it wanted this session.

However, there’s reason to believe that Schellenberg’s play was not targeted toward settling scores from the 2017 session, but instead was a setup for a 2018 run.

Consider that in 2016, when the seat in Schellenberg’s State House district was open, the councilman mulled getting into that battle, and his main motivation would have been taking on the man who won that race, Rep. Jason Fischer.

When I asked Schellenberg if he was looking at 2018, he sent mixed signals, saying that while he wouldn’t want to quit on the district the way he says Fischer did, he’s not ruling out a run for State House, either.

Fischer—and his political team, which is the same political team Mayor Curry uses—are ready to rumble. As a loyal lieutenant of House leadership, he’d have all the money he’d need. And with no love lost between Fischer and Schellenberg, the incumbent is ready to throw some elbows, as he did in 2016’s primary against Dick Kravitz.

Of course, there could be another entrant: a Republican in that district, with a history in elected office, called a potential Schellenberg/Fischer matchup “the fool versus the tool.” It could get interesting in House District 16 soon.

Fantasia: It could also get interesting in neighboring House District 15, where Jay Fant, a man without a country in terms of being in good with House leadership, has launched a run for Florida Attorney General.

He’s the only guy in the field, but the effect, so far, is more like that of a Martin O’Malley-type candidacy in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. He’s there. Media is kinda/sorta covering him. But in terms of raison d’être, Fant’s quixotic run boils down to three letters: WTF.

He started off his tour by dyeing his hair jet-black (usually a move people make when they’re about to lose, not when they’re just getting started). Then, putting on his best Pam Bondi ensemble, complete with pearls to clutch, he promised local media in various markets that he would fight to continue her legacy.

Now, you don’t have to be a Trump University graduate to understand why he’s saying that. He wanted Bondi to respond in kind. Which hasn’t happened yet.

If Fant’s running for AG, someone has to replace him. But who? Names to watch: Tax Collector Michael Corrigan, Jacksonville City Councilors Jim Love and Greg Anderson, and Planning Commissioner Chris Hagan have all been linked to a potential run.

What Can Brown Do For You? In our continuing Alvin Brown watch, we have some news. Sorta/kinda.

We’re hearing that once the Corrine Brown drama is out of the news (read: post-sentencing), Alvin Brown is going to make a move.

Sentencing, though, could be three months away … assuming a new trial doesn’t actually materialize.

Alvin Brown, who ran for Congress in 1994 against Corrine Brown, is telling people he doesn’t care who is running. He just wants in.

Is there skepticism that he can get the job done? Bet your ass on it.

Party leadership on the state level is not certain that Brown has much more to offer than his 1,000-watt smile. His rep for not having a grasp of policy may have been buried by local Dems in the 2015 campaign, but that stink is sticking to Mayor Next Level–and Brown, silent since leaving the mayor’s office, has not done anything in two years to rehab his image.

As well, Al Lawson will have the advantages of incumbency, including help from Congressional colleagues and lobbies he rubbed the right way.

I’d love to see a real challenge to Lawson. Alvin Brown needs to call me back and let me know how he’s going to pull this off.

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