The mysterious political committee that funneled money through the Democratic Party of Florida to influence the Jacksonville mayoral race not only had an unlikely name, Conservative for a Better Jacksonville, it had a unlikely donor, former GOP money man Peter S. Rummell.
The narrow victory was clearly the event of the quarter for the Democrats, who collected large checks from unions and Jacksonville-based trial lawyers, such as Wayne Hogan and Steve Pajcic, to raise $1.1 million. Of that, $426,0000 came from the "conservatives" in the Jacksonville PAC. Their expenditures went into three-pack ads prior to the Jacksonville campaign, mailers, and the predictable GOTV efforts.
Rummell, a former St. Joe Co. executive, long-time Bush Pioneer and RPOF contributor, donated $170,000 of his own money and the money of his company to help Democrat Alvin Brown defeat Republican Mike Hogan. The race was won by a mere 1500 votes. the Times Union's Abel Harding first wrote about Rummell's influence in the race, when Rummell vowed to raise at least $300,000. But the final numbers as reported late Monday showed they did much better than that, raising $426,000 and steering most of it through the party. (The move did not make the First Coast Tea Party very happy.)
It's one thing to watch prominent Republicans use the Democratic party to help achieve their goal. It's another when they offer up reason such as this, from Harding's story:
"The vast majority [of the donors] are Republicans," he said. "What's important about it is it's a group of typical Republicans who are reaching out and embracing Alvin."
Rummell told Harding that Brown also had demonstrated credibility on the issue he believes to be the most crucial facing the city. “We just can’t lose sight of K-12 education,” he said. “The mayor has a bully pulpit and Alvin has kids in public schools. He understands the importance of public education.”