Arash Kamiar: Let's Not Vote for Lenny Curry

May 15, 2015 27 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In this op-ed Arash Kamiar writes why he's not voting for this particular Republican candidate.

I was wide eyed, and a bit pleased, when I first read Pete Rummell’s statement that he was no longer supporting Mayor Alvin Brown.  He went as far as saying that Mayor Brown “has no courage…he’s wimped out…it’s Embarrassing.”

My wide-eyes turned into an eye-roll when Pete Rummell stated Lenny Curry, the former chair of the Florida Republican Party, as someone to consider for the position of mayor. It was an obvious ploy but it still surprised me. I assumed Rummell wanted to have real political discourse, instead he was indulging in political rhetoric. Naïve of me, I know.

Rummell choosing candidates is not a new phenomenon. He is one of the primary reasons Mayor Alvin Brown is in office today. As a republican, Rummell chose not to support the republican candidate de jour, Mike Hogan, during the last election cycle. On some level, we should be appreciative for Rummell’s willingness to leave the Republican Party’s hardline candidate in support of a more practical Democrat. His initial donation of $150k to Alvin Brown in 2011 was almost immediately matched by another $150k from other, probably Republican, donors.

The seemingly sudden (although it was more likely months of planning) rush to support Lenny Curry pushed other viable candidates, with proven track records to the side. This includes Bill Bishop, of course; Jim Overton, Duval County Property Appraiser and very possibly Sheriff John Rutherford, a candidate I more than likely would have supported. They didn’t have a shot at winning the support of the Republican Party of Duval County (RPDC) because the "establishment" Republican leadership had essentially “anointed” Curry with fanfare and most importantly, money. Lots of money. Curry’s campaign raised over $550k in June 2014 alone.

Of note, when the RPDC first voted whether to officially endorse Lenny Curry or Bill Bishop the first vote fell flat. Neither candidate received enough of the vote to gain an endorsement. Under Councilman Lumb’s direction, that same night, they added more voters to the meeting, re-voted and sealed the endorsement for Lenny Curry. At maximum, the events of that evening were nefarious. At minimum, what happened was bumbling. Either is possible when Councilman Lumb is in charge.

I wish I could talk about Curry without talking about the Oz like machine surrounding him. Unfortunate for us, Curry isn’t the Wizard. Others seem to be. Curry comes across as a political hologram, an attempt to conjure the image of a quintessential mayor. Consequently, substantive information about Curry is practically hidden.

Over the past year what have we really learned about Curry?

He has a great looking family.

His wife seems awesome.

He has a dad you want to drink a beer with.

He is an accountant.

He doesn’t like crime...and it seems he has embellished quite a bit on this issue. His figures on the number of police that have been cut are totally incorrect. His estimates on what would otherwise be a dramatic increase in crime seem to be grossly exaggerated.  It seems politics requires a different kind of accountant.

Curry and his handlers played politics too hard. They started their campaign with distasteful negative ads that said nothing but still managed to ruffle the intelligence of every Jaxson. They continue their campaign with excessive teaparty-esque political jargon that also says nothing, but at least it is on script.

The Curry campaign races to the bottom.

Even die-hard republicans seem disenchanted at the “say nothing relevant” Curry campaign; especially, in light of the “say something relevant” campaign of Republican Bill Bishop. If Curry knew how to make his campaign more authentic he chose to ignore his instincts to troll less enlightened paths. The most asinine of which was his campaign’s claim that the Clintons would take over Jacksonville if Mayor Alvin Brown is re-elected,  “Hillary Clinton is looking to take control of our country in 2016. But if we don’t do everything we can to win this runoff, she’ll regain control of our city in less than a month...”. Really?

Still, I was open to be swayed and I wondered if he could be a viable replacement for Brown. The debates; however, assured me that Curry should not be Jacksonville’s mayor. Yes, it was the overly rehearsed answers. Yes, it was the gotcha statements that fell flat. Yes, it was the feigned passion about Jacksonville’s safety.  It confirmed my thought that he is too much of a “yes-man” and too politically biased to lead this city with the proper pragmatism, objectivity and respect that we require.

READ: Why I am Voting for Alvin Brown by Stephen Dare

The campaigns rhetoric, which Curry obliged, is so divisive, "right-wing" and irrelevant to Jacksonville that I'm not sure why Rummell (and other establishment Republicans) parted ways with Mike Hogan in 2011. Remember, Hogan was (and is) a hard-line, right-wing kind-of guy. Curry's campaign echoes similar sentiments to Hogan's. Is there a difference between Hogan and Curry? If there is, his campaign has not demonstrated this difference nor have they shown that Curry will be able to be an lead inclusively (a stark contrast to Mayor Brown).

I have to go with what seems to be a common sentiment during this election. It’s better to have four more years of Brown than potentially eight more years with Curry.

Curry is simply not worth the upheaval. More instability is not what our city needs right now.

Further, and maybe most importantly, Jacksonville’s king makers need a bit of a check from voters on how mayoral invisible primaries are handled. They allowed reliable candidates like Rick Mullaney and Audrey Muran to fall away in the last mayoral election, leaving Mike Hogan to take the reins. Then they offered Curry as a viable replacement for Mayor Brown, skipping over other proven Republican individuals; individuals that would have been certainly better than Curry in this election.

Hopefully, during the next election cycle the party leadership will trust the intelligence of Jacksonville’s citizens and pick candidates that are not political minstrels but pragmatic visionaries.

We'll discuss the depressive fact on how little the general public is involved in nominating candidates another day.

Written by Arash Kamiar