When Jacksonville, FL’s mayor Lenny Curry offered his town for the Republican convention in August, it proved something many suspected. Curry is a Republican first and a mayor second. Because if the Democratic convention was looking for a new home, he would have never have volunteered Jacksonville. Most likely, he would have cited COVID-19 concerns and opted to protect his residents.
Like Trump, Curry is new to public office. Being mayor of Jacksonville is the former accounting consultant’s first public service gig. Before he took office in 2015, Curry was for three years the chair of the Republican Party of Florida. Yep.
A new poll shows most of Curry’s constituents disagree with his decision to flood the 15,000-seat arena that is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars with Republicans from across the country while a pandemic is running out of control in Florida. (More)
Curry’s job approval rating reached a net negative in the poll, conducted by the University of North Florida. Of voters surveyed, 45 percent approved of Curry’s mayorship while 49% disapproved. Even more disapproved bringing the RNC to Jacksonville — 58 percent against and 42 percent in favor.
Pres. Trump fared even worse in a town generally regarded as solid red. Of course, Republicans approved of the job he’s doing as president with a high 63 percent while 89 percent of Democrats strongly disapproved. The interesting figure is among those who claimed no party affiliation (NPA). Only 31 percent of them strongly or somewhat approved of Trump’s conduct in office, while 69 percent strongly or somewhat disapproved of it. And about 22 percent of those surveyed identified as NPA.
Obviously these numbers can change, and hearing the name of their town bandied for weeks in the national news might mellow the opposition to holding Trump’s big speech in Jacksonville. But how positive that limelight will be remains to be seen, coinciding as the event does with the 60th anniversary of “Ax-Handle Saturday,” a dark day in the civil rights struggle when young peaceful Black protestors were bloodied by white mobs as they tried to sit at segregated lunch counters.
Curry is in his second and final term as Jacksonville’s mayor, and his ambitions make what happens during the convention very high stakes. Those ambitions are said to be national. That’s a good thing if this poll of his hometown residents is accurate.