SHAD KHAN, PETER RUMMELL, KYN & THE MAYOR’S RACE

The Jacksonville mayoral race looks to be casting its shadow over things seemingly unrelated, if the recent news of Shad Khan backing out of investments in an organization closely associated to One Spark matters.

Last week, Stache Investments released a statement describing Khan’s “commitment to the Jacksonville community” and “appreciation for entrepreneurship,” before dropping a bomb on KYN, saying that “Stache Investments specifically targeted support for Jacksonville entrepreneurs,” but that the more than $1 million invested provided a “disappointing level of financial support to the intended startups.”

The statement went on to express that Stache and Khan are “fully committed” to Jacksonville entrepreneurs and the startup community, and that they “welcome the opportunity” to fund entrepreneurs and startups with “efficient business plans which justify their support.”

Epic burn, there.

The takeaway: KYN, in Khan’s eyes, is amateur hour. (Or was. KYN is now done.)

Peter Rummell, the impresario behind both One Spark and the Lenny Curry mayoral campaign, was quick to offer damage control, dropping a statement via Meredith O’Malley Johnson, the One Spark community and public relations director: “Mr. Khan has had no direct investment in One Spark and we are confused that he does not seem to understand or appreciate that detail.” Rummell added that Khan’s investments needed sufficient time to “mature into a position to provide the opportunity for significant rates of return, that is what investing in early-stage startups is all about. … For Mr. Khan to exit this early in the process from his investments, while disappointing for the companies, does not affect any aspect of One Spark. Jacksonville entrepreneurs and the startup community will continue to benefit from One Spark with or without Stache Investments.”

This column, like much local media, has amply documented the falling out between Rummell and Mayor Brown this year. Recall that Rummell’s support was pivotal in pushing Brown over the hump toward election in 2011 — as insiders from both parties say, Rummell took serious issue with the Republican in the general election, Mike Hogan, for social-issue gaffes and for taking a “city manager” approach to his election-year spiel.

Rummell has since become disenchanted with Brown’s leadership style, going to great lengths to ensure that Lenny Curry is well-positioned for the upcoming election, which, as we know, is a direct shot across the bow of the current mayor and Khan, his highest-profile supporter. Despite the erosion of support on his right flank, Brown still seems confident — confident enough to wear seersucker to a recent Jags game … after Labor Day … and confident enough to blow off the bloviating Council for a Bill Cosby fundraiser in the Big Apple.

A big source of that confidence may well be the knowledge that Mike Hogan is waiting in the wings to bloody Curry in the mayoral primary to be held in March 2015. A must-follow Twitter feed is that of Joseph Hogan (@hoganjoseph), Mike’s son, who is not averse to the political scrum, and has been agitating for months for his dad to jump in, claiming that anti-Hogan articles are evidence of “the Curry camp working hard to make sure Hogan doesn’t run” and promoting the We Want Mike Hogan for Jacksonville Mayor Facebook page, which at this writing has 369 likes.

I’ve already touched on the deterioration of support for Hogan from the developers and good ol’ boys who backed him last time [“Hogan, Hero?” Aug. 27]. That being said, it’s entirely in Brown’s interest to ensure that Curry doesn’t have a smooth path to the runoff. Could some of Khan’s investment capital make its way to Hogan’s potential campaign? Probably not in an overt way, but stranger things have happened. On the other hand, with Curry having introduced Khan at a recent GOP fundraiser, and with rumors of Khan being less than thrilled with the current mayor, it’s clear this situation is in flux.

What is known, however, is that Rummell and Khan have the biggest feud in Jacksonville politics right now, and every candidate in the mayoral race is a pawn in their game. Serious doubts remain about Hogan’s viability as a candidate, but as a spoiler and a fly in the establishment GOP ointment, he is top-shelf.

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