JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County went blue in the most recent elections for president and governor but local Democrats are seeing red as infighting in the party had led to calls for the resignation of the chairman of the Duval County Democratic Party.
The controversy centers around allegations of secret meetings and behind the scene deals involving party Chairman Daniel Henry and Republican Councilman Rory Diamond.
The fallout has local elected Democratic leaders lashing out at fellow party members.
At issue, changes to Jacksonville City Council districts. It’s a process that happens every 10 years after the census and has the potential to get ugly.
Councilman Garrett Dennis said that process is now being clouded because of the meeting Henry had with Diamond. Dennis, along with five other Democratic members of city council, called for Henry to resign during a Friday news conference.
“Chairman Henry met with a Republican City Council member in a backroom deal to carve out a district tailored for him in return for helping increase the Republican majority,” Dennis said.
Henry said he had a meeting but was “blindsided” by Diamond “with a shady deal to work together on redistricting in exchange for protecting four Democratic seats.”
“I did not ask for this deal nor did I know it was coming,” Henry said in a statement.
Jacksonville City Council President and Democrat Tommy Hazouri backed up Dennis’s calls for Henry’s resignation on Friday.
“We have the responsibility to do our job in asking the chair to resign,” Hazouris said in a statement. “What is more egregious is the fact that city council member Rory Diamond has violated the public’s trust by attempting to manipulate the redistricting process.”
Henry, the youngest chair of a major county political party in Florida, did not want to talk on camera but issued a statement to News4Jax:
Diamond also did not want to talk on camera but issued a statement.
“I deny all this silliness,” Diamond said. “I refuse to comment on the Democratic Party squabbles.”
Census data was expected to come out next month but it’s been delayed until the fall.
“Redistricting is very high stakes and particularly at stake for city council members and it’s high stakes for the Republican and Democratic parties as far as what’s going to happen in the future particularly now that the Democratic Party has some momentum,” said News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney.
Hazouri called for the local Republican party to admonish Diamond for what he called an “obvious, unethical, and illegal act.”
“As an elected city council member who will participate and vote on the recommendation of the final redistricting legislation, Council member Diamond clearly is why the public questions the means and motives of politicians. So I say Republican Party leadership, do your job!” Hazouri said.
Henry called for Democrats to maintain a united front heading into mid-term elections.
“With recent Democratic wins, turning Duval blue in 2018 and 2020, I’m proud to have been Chair of the party to help us make this possible. In a time when Republicans are actively trying to stop our momentum, we are focused on delivering results for Democrats and keeping Duval Blue in the upcoming 2022 election,” Henry said.