A Race of One

As we all watch the horror unfolding at the Mexican border, plus the stream of insanity emitting from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s easy to forget about issues closer to home. Still, I can’t be the only person wondering if someone—anyone—from the local Democratic Party is going to run against Lenny Curry in the next mayoral race.

For months, I’ve been asking: Is it you? Is it them? Is it a cardboard cutout of Jake Godbold? Oh, there have been rumors, a prominent, wealthy centrist Democrat here; a well-connected, skosh-more-liberal Democrat there. To date, none of the rumors has panned out. Of course, it doesn’t help that Curry roared into office with a self-imposed ‘kill ’em in the crib’ mandate that led to a partisan purge the likes of which this city has never seen.

It’s hard to find someone with local government experience and name recognition to run for mayor when pretty much the only Democrats allowed to remain on boards and commissions under his regime are the ones who would sit, stay and bark on the mayor’s command.

Meanwhile, Curry has been fundraising like a boss and collecting endorsements like the JaxBiz atta boy; though, to be honest, who else would they endorse? A ficus tree?

To call Lenny Curry a formidable opponent is a gross understatement. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be beat. This is the same man who, after he called on our congressional delegation to halt admissions of Syrian refugees in 2015, told WOKV that he “loves” Syrian refugees, he just has misgivings about the vetting process for people who come here to escape civil war, genocide or persecution.

As someone with actual knowledge of immigration law, I say with authority that anyone who claims to have doubts in the vetting process for refugees is either ignorant or completely full of it. Of course, they could also be a politician playing on the darker sentiments of certain voters who can’t wrap their brains around the fact that, in the 38 years since the Refugee Act passed, there hasn’t been a single instance of a refugee carrying out a terror attack in the United States. The truth is that our vetting process for refugees is lengthy, detailed and thorough as hell. Before Trump, the 20-step process as detailed in The New York Times included interviews with the United Nations, State Department, Homeland Security, three fingerprint checks, two background checks (at least), and more, and could take up to two years before those delightful handlers at TSA get a chance to scan, search and frisk. Now it’s more of a “ye shall not pass” process.

There are members of city council who would make for good sport in a race against Curry. Anna Lopez Brosche comes to mind. Garrett Dennis does, too.

Brosche is a Republican, of course, and I’ve not heard tale of nor seen evidence that she’s flipping blue any time soon. Brosche versus Curry would be interesting, but he’s already absorbed the right’s donation pool like a dark star, so she’d have an uphill fundraising climb to have a fighting chance. It’s worth noting the word is that there are people waiting with checkbooks in hand should she jump in the race.

Dennis, on the other hand, has name recognition and is something of a wunderkind. Loosen the purse strings in places like Avondale and Ortega and he could give it a go.

If I’m the Notorious LBC, I do not want to do battle with Garrett Dennis. Dennis is not going to fall for the same tricks Alvin Brown did, who almost bested Curry despite waiting until the last minute to start campaigning. And that was pre-Trump, pre-JEA sale debacle, pre-City Hall boys club, pre-opioid crisis, pre-#MeToo, pre-Muslim ban, pre-anthem kneeling, pre-Parkland, pre-Curry v. Toney Sleiman, pre-homeless day resource center standoff. A lot has changed since 2015.

When a wannabe politician is in their first race, the opposition has little to use against them, so they usually feel around blindly for a while then revert to attacking their incompetence and inexperience, with limited success.

This will not be the case when the next race rolls around. Whoever runs against Curry will have every bit of negative publicity that his administration has generated to pull oppo from, plus scads of voters determined to de-Trumpify the nation, many who haven’t forgotten that our dear mayor showed up for dear leader during the campaign and has supported him since, even on things like withdrawing from the Paris Accord and calling kneeling NFL players “stupid.”

Oh, sure, Curry has some achievements. The pension tax (yawn). Bunch of cop hires, but that’s an issue that cuts both ways. And … there are other things, I’m sure. I do recall some photo ops … Nothing says ‘mayoral’ like filling potholes for a few hours and using “at-hope” children as props, right?