Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Titanic Battle for North Florida Senate Seat

The race to succeed Jim King (R-Jacksonville) will take a dramatic turn when John Thrasher jumps into the race in the coming weeks.  Thrasher, who has announced that Friday will be his last day as a lobbyist, transformed himself into one of the most powerful lobbyists in the state after leaving the Speaker’s Chair in the Florida House of Representatives.  He has already demonstrated his intent to join the race by putting his upscale Orange Park home on the market in order to move into the district.  Yesterday, he told the St. Pete Times that he was even okay with leaving the money behind.

Thrasher’s Republican opponents aren’t exactly backing down.  City Councilman Art Graham, former State Rep. Aaron Bean and businessman Dan Quiggle have all been hard at work raising money for the race.  In fact, Bean has been successful at securing the support of lobbyists throughout the state.  Whether or not Thrasher’s entry into the race will change that remains to be seen.

It will be a barnburner of a race, that’s for sure.  Most likely the most expensive State Senate race in the state.

Stay tuned…

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , ,

1st Quarter Fundraising At A Glance

On 3 Public Relations is out with a synopsis of the funds raised to date for Florida races.  A few quick highlights:

  • CFO Alex Sink (D) has raised over $1.1 million for her re-election race, which could be quickly switched to the Gubernatorial race if she should so desire.
  • Charlie Crist (R) has raised not a single dollar for his re-election bid.  (Don’t let that fool you, Charlie is a rather prolific fundraiser once he kicks it into gear—and makes up his mind in regards to which race he’s in.)
  • Rep. Adam Putnam (R) leads in the fundraising for Secretary of Agriculture by a significant margin.
  • There has been a stunning $388,520 raised already for the Senate seat that Jim King (R) will vacate.  Aaron Bean still leads the pack with $220,441 raised, but Art Graham ($91,050) and Dan Quiggle ($77,029) aren’t far behind.  Of course, John Thrasher has yet to raise any funds, leaving an observer to wonder just how expensive this North Florida Senate seat can get.  (Funny that the economy doesn’t seem to be affecting political fundraising—at least in North Florida.)

View the full report here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , , ,

John Thrasher Will Run For Senate

You may recall that we first discussed this here well over a month ago, but today John Thrasher seemed to have cast any doubt aside—he will run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Jim King.

Former House Speaker-turned lobbyist John Thrasher will run for term-limited Sen. Jim King’s seat, Thrasher confirmed.

The Jacksonville Republican has not officially entered the race but said he will almost certainly jump in after the legislative session ends in May.

Thrasher, who served as speaker from 1998-2000, is a high-powered lobbyist for the Southern Strategy Group, whose clients include Disney World, Associated Industries and the Florida Hospital Association.

Thrasher will join previously announced candidates former Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach), Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham (R-Jacksonville Beach) and local Republican Businessman Dan Quiggle.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , ,

Thrasher entering Senate Race?

The Republican primary for Jim King’s State Senate seat is starting to get crowded.  We’ve already written about City Councilman Art Graham and former State Representative Aaron Bean and their fundraising efforts, but they’ve got company.  No sooner did Dan Quiggle jump into the race, than the man who can out-fundraise them all said he’s interested.

“If I had to say if I was going to do it today, I’d probably do it,” [John] Thrasher said Friday. A final decision won’t come until after the session, but he said: “I think it’s something I’m ready to do again. His wife Jean has “given me the green light,” he said. “I would love to get back in the process.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , ,

Politics Pays

When recently term-limited State Representative Aaron Bean hasn’t been dialing for dollars in his bid to replace Jim King in the Florida Senate, he’s been job hunting. Banking may have run its course for Mr. Bean, but he appears to have come out okay. He’s landed a job as the Relationship Development Officer for Shands. Mr. Bean’s embrace of healthcare as a profession is somewhat surprising. After all, while in the House, Mr. Bean served as chair of the House Health Care Council and presided over some of the deepest healthcare cuts the state has ever seen. Over $1 billion was sliced from programs that provided healthcare to some of Florida’s neediest residents. And yet, he lands a job in healthcare.

Politics certainly does pay.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , ,

Dialing for Dollars

Things are already heating up in the race to fill Jim King’s State Senate seat when he retires in 2010.  It may be two years away, but the two declared candidates, Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham (R) and former Florida State Representative Aaron Bean (R), have already been busy raising funds for what will probably be the hottest race in town.

Art Graham has already raised over $50,000 from such reliable sources as Auld & White Contractors Inc, John D Baker II, John D Clark III, Fidelity National, J B Coxwell and Howard Korman.  (Real Estate may be a depressed industry at the present time, but the current economic state notwhithstanding, Mr. Graham seems to be having no problem convincing the industry to pony up cash.)

Mr. Graham’s haul; however, pales in comparison to Aaron Bean’s staggering $164,000+.  That’s right, two years before an election to a post that pays less than $50,000, Mr. Bean has already collected six figures.  Aaron Bean’s donor list reads like a “Who’s Who” of Florida lobbyist and powerful PAC’s.  He has the unquestioned support of Florida’s medical and dental community with thousands of dollars raised in contribution from their respective political action committees.  The question Mr. Graham might want to ask of Mr. Bean is “Who raised more contributions from the actual residents/voters of the district?”  In that respect, Mr. Graham might have a shot.  Aaron Bean, despite his long-time Fernandina Beach residency, seems more focused on raising Tallahassee, South Florida, Georgia and New York dollars than those of his former constituents in the Florida House.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , ,

Musical Chairs

The dust has barely settled on the 2008 Election and politicians are already positioning themselves for the next step on the ladder.

Word on the street is that newly-elected Duval County School Board Member Stan Jordan has no intent on filling out his term on the School Board.  By all accounts, he has his eyes set on the State Senate seat that Jim King will be vacating in two yearas.  Mr. Jordan apparently simply needed a job until the Senate seat opens and figured a return to the School Board would be an easy win.  (Rumor has it that Mr. Jordan tried to convince Ken Manuel, his opponent in the School Board race, to set aside his interest in the seat for the time being, and in return, Jordan would push him for an appointment to the seat when Jordan vacated it.)  Talk about premature speculation…

Of course, Jordan won’t be the only one contending for Jim King’s seat.  State Rep. Aaron Bean has already announced his candidacy, and Jacksonville City Council Members Art Graham and Richard Clark are also said to be interested…

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , , , , , ,

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