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Jacksonville’s Republican Elites Target Blue-Collar Conservative Councilman

Two-term Republican City Councilman and former mayoral candidate Al Ferraro may be denied his new appointment because he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree. There’s much more to the story though, writes Zac Howard of The Florida Standard.

No good deed goes unpunished in the Duval County Republican Party. Following a year of spectacularly dishonest and immoral campaigning, the lone GOP politician who refused to participate is now paying the price.

Last month, Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan, a Democrat, tapped termed-out City Councilman Al Ferraro, a Republican, as Director of Neighborhoods. Ferraro is a high-character conservative with eight years of experience in a high-ranking elected office. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor this spring, earning the third-highest vote total among the five serious candidates.

Having a stalwart Republican in the Democrat mayor’s administration should be a win for the local GOP, right? It certainly would be… if the party wasn’t dominated by RINOs who are obsessed with getting payback on anyone who dares to dissent from the bigwig’s agenda.

Through its supermajority on the City Council, the party is likely going to deny Ferraro the post over a technicality – he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree. Ferraro sidestepped the higher-education racket and instead started his own landscaping businesses, which he still owns and operates.

Clearly, the voters in Ferraro’s district had no problem with his blue-collar background when they twice elected him to city council. But since when did ruling class Republicans care what blue-collar voters think?


It’s no secret that there is serious division within the Duval GOP. Local radio host Ed Dean highlighted it in a recent column and I have reported on it for The Florida Standard as well.

READ MORE: Former Duval GOP Chair Calls Out Leadership for Stalling Membership of Popular Conservative Outsider

There are those who prefer to win at all costs, even if it means lying, smearing and gaslighting. And there those who would rather lose with their integrity intact than sacrifice it in pursuit of gaining political power. Ferraro belongs to the latter group, while men like former mayor Lenny Curry, Jax Chamber CEO Daniel Davis, Duval GOP Chair Dean Black and their political consultants Tim Baker and Alexander Pantinakis are among the former.

In May, Davis’ campaign – led by Baker and Pantinakis – fired off several egregiously dishonest advertisements painting Ferraro as a closet liberal. When Ferraro confronted Davis about the ads, Davis did not defend the obviously deceitful messaging, but instead responded: “I want to win.”

Unfortunately for Davis, it was these kinds of ethical compromises that kept him from becoming mayor. So now his camp’s message to Ferraro has morphed into: “We want you to lose.”


To add momentum to the Council's expected waiver denial, Duval GOP attorney and establishment footsoldier Andrew Moss penned an op-ed for a local Left-wing outlet that made the case for why Ferraro’s appointment “deserves scrutiny.”

Moss starts off by siding with the radical Left on two issues: erasing history and obsessing over skin color.

While on the Jacksonville City Council, Ferraro voted to protect a century-old monument that honors women whose husbands, sons, fathers and brothers died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War. This apparently makes him unfit for his appointment, according to Moss.

READ MORE: Jacksonville’s Lame Duck Mayor Rips Down More Historic Monuments in Final Days

Moss then belittles Ferraro’s concern that the city's local BLM group wants to change the name of the city because Jacksonville is named after the slave-owning Andrew Jackson – a goal that the group has admitted proudly and publicly. I trust Moss is prepared to start cheering for the North Florida Jaguars.

“Diversity” is the next reason Moss gives for why the City Council should block Ferraro’s appointment. The previous Director of Neighborhoods, who had higher melanin levels than Ferraro, is surely a better fit in Moss’ eyes.


Moss then points to Ferraro’s delay in paying off fines for illegally placed campaign signs (gasp!), an act which the former councilman believes – as do I – was a stunt orchestrated by those who support Davis and Curry. Refusing to pay a fine for something he doesn’t believe he was responsible for is precisely what a man of principle should do.

Moss then hits Ferraro for hiring Meleana Gay – the wife of Councilman Mike Gay – as his assistant, a position with absolutely zero public influence. Ironically, hiring the wife of his friend and ally might be the only thing Ferraro has in common with Lenny Curry – who made the wife of his top consultant the City’s deputy director of intergovernmental affairs.

Finally, Deegan’s willingness to let Ferraro speak openly and honestly with the media about the sign non-scandal was “disastrous,” according to Moss. Perhaps that’s because the Curry admin’s media policy was essentially: “You’ll get nothing and you’ll like it.”


The real reason the City Council wants to keep Ferraro out of government is because he refuses to bend the knee to the GOP establishment. All good mobsters know that disloyalty must be dealt with forcefully and conspicuously.

Arguably the biggest hypocrisy in the entire bachelor’s degree charade is that the City Council approved waivers for five different city employees during the Curry administration.

Disingenuous, playground tactics like this are the biggest reasons why members of the Republican Party – not the Democrats – deserve the most blame for Jacksonville’s current political woes.