JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the unitary city election March 19, News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney says this is the start of what will probably be a stormy road to the ballot box.
Almost, literally, there have been “shots fired” in the campaign for mayor in Jacksonville.
Republican Anna Lopez Brosche launched her first ad and it starts with the sounds of gunshots and a crying baby. It attacks Republican Mayor Lenny Curry without a spoken word, using sound effects and written media quotes.
"No surprise she chose crime. Understand that negative ads work. I think you're going to see more of it," said Mullaney, director of Jacksonville University's Public Policy Institute.
Mullaney says it’s a little surprising to start with a negative ad, but he points out that time is short with the election 40 days away as of Thursday. That means there's a short time for candidates to get their message out, which may be part of the reason for the strategy.
"Resources are a big deal here. Whoever has raised the most money does matter. Do you have the wherewithal, the ability to get out the positive message and run those negative ads and make sure the public hears it? Or do you not have those resources?" Mullaney said. "So, in the end, it's an enormous advantage if you have the fundraising, if you have the resources to get your message out. Right now, that's advantage Lenny Curry."
The Curry campaign says voters deserve better and reacted to the ad with a statement that calls it “disgusting.”
"Well, when you're on the receiving end of negative ads, it's always disgusting and it's always over-the-top. That's in the eye of the beholder. I expect that the Brosche campaign probably has the same reaction when they're on the receiving end," Mullaney said. "You can expect over the next 40 days there will be negative ads coming both ways."
The March 19 first election has some voters confused because it’s not a primary, it's called a unitary election. It's open to all registered voters regardless of party affiliation and they can vote for any candidate on the ballot.
In any race, if one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, they are elected. If not, the top two candidates, regardless of party, will runoff in May.