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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mystery 'conservative' group fronts $426k of the $1.1 million collected by Fla Dem Party

11

July

In the run up to the upset election in Jacksonville this spring, in which Democrat Alvin Brown defeated Republican Mike Hogan by about 1,500 votes, the Democratic Party collected $426,000 from a political action committee carefully called "Conservatives for a Better Jacksonville."

The mysterious political committee not only had an unlikely name, it had a unlikely donor: former GOP money man Peter S. Rummell. 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 Brown defeat Hogan.

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.”

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 also during that time. Their expenditures went into three-pack ads prior to the campaign, mailers, and the predictable GOTV efforts.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 2:04am]

    

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