Bringing in $300,000 in Jacksonville, former Massachusetts governor leads the Republican pack in poll
By: Kevin Derby
While Jacksonville may have elected its first Democratic mayor in two decades earlier in the month, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is counting on the First Coast in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Romney held a fund-raiser at EverBank Field, where the Jaguars play, on Tuesday and brought in more than $300,000 to his war chest.
In the Republican presidential primary back in 2008, Romney relied heavily on the First Coast which helped propel him to a second place finish behind U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Romney carried Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler and Clay counties and is looking at reinforcing his stronghold there for 2012. Romney was at the kickoff event for state Sen. John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville, in his bid for re-election back in 2010. Thrasher, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, backed Romney in 2008 and is doing so again in 2012.
Besides Thrasher, Romney can count on much of the Republican establishment in 2012 for additional support. U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw and his wife, Thrasher and his wife, and outgoing Mayor John Peyton co-chaired the event on Tuesday. Other supporters in the area who helped organize the event include former Rep. Aaron Bean, a Republican who is now the front-runner for the state Senate seat in 2012 currently held by Sen. Steve Wise. R-Jacksonville. Former Mayor John Delaney, now president of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, also helped organize the event. So did Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford and state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville. Other supporters backing Romney at the event included Herb Peyton, the founder of Gate Petroleum and the father of the current mayor, and Wayne Weaver, the majority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Prominent businessman Tom Petway, who helped lead Jacksonville’s efforts when it hosted the Super Bowl and well-known for his support of the Bush family, also backed Romney at the event.
A poll from Dixie Strategies taken on behalf of First Coast News of Jacksonville Republicans earlier in May showed that Romney’s support on the First Coast goes beyond just prominent conservative business and political leaders.
Romney took 24.3 percent of the poll followed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas who took second with 17.1 percent. Huckabee has since announced that he will not run for the Republican nomination. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia won the backing of 15.1 percent of those surveyed.
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