Could campaign for Jacksonville mayor impact Florida gubernatorial race?

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida left his post to run for mayor of Jacksonville, and sources told Channel 4 that Gov. Rick Scott wasn't happy about Lenny Curry's departure.

Curry added his name Tuesday to the list of candidates for mayor of Jacksonville, filing the official documents about a month after he announced his resignation as chairman. During May, Channel 4 heard reports that Scott was furious with Curry over the decision.

But Scott's campaign spokesman didn't acknowledge any irritation from the governor toward Curry.

"Governor Scott accepted the resignation when Lenny informed him he was considering a run for office," said Greg Blair. "The governor wishes Lenny the best of luck in his future endeavors."

Curry declined an on-camera interview about the reports but told Channel 4's Scott Johnson that the "rumor had been spread, but it's not true."

Curry added that he has a "great working relationship with the governor" and the party is in great hands.

Those hands belong to Clay County's Leslie Dougher.

"(The Republican Party of Florida) has been running a campaign, even with the change of leadership," Dougher said. "It's been going great guns. It is a machine that's running right now."

Republicans elected Dougher as the new party state chair. Dougher said she counts Scott among her supporters and said she believes the party will be just fine.

"If there was (any concern from the governor's campaign about the leadership change), I didn't hear any," Dougher said. "I think it was very positive. I think they were just looking at moving forward with the campaign. The campaign is going absolutely fabulously for the governor."

Channel 4 also sought Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist's take on the leadership change.

Crist's campaign offered this statement: "(Curry) is not the first and won't be the last person to run away from Rick Scott."

Crist's spokesperson said numerous staffers in the Scott administration have left their positions during his tenure.

Florida Sen. John Thrasher, a longtime Republican leader, said he thinks Florida is better off now than it was four years ago, and he has confidence the party can handle a change in leadership.

"This is a shorter period of time for Leslie Dougher; she's got basically four months," Thrasher said. "But the party's well in hand. Lenny Curry did a great job for the party. He left it in good financial shape. And Leslie just simply now needs to gather the troops around and make sure the grass roots understand what's necessary to be done during this next four months."

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