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Mayoral candidates trade blows over alleged JEA ties

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Republican mayoral candidate Daniel Davis is firing back with his own attack ad directed at his top-funded Republican opponent Councilmember LeAnna Cumber.

The ad alleges ties between Cumber and the JEA scandal in direct response to an ad Cumber ran accusing Davis of involvement with the failed attempt to sell the utility.

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The ad from Davis launched just two days after the local Republican Party officially called on the Governor to launch a state investigation into the controversy.

“Liberal LeAnna Cumber is lying to cover up her JEA record,” a narrator begins in the ad put out by Davis’ political action committee released Wednesday.

Cumber’s ad debuted earlier this month.

“Daniel Davis and his donners pushed privatizing JEA,” said the narrator in the opening line of Cumber’s ad.

UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder argues attacking opponents with JEA ties could be effective, as university polling showed the proposed sale to be incredibly unpopular.

“You know maybe the only thing more unpopular is the city coughing up you know, seven or $800 million for a brand-new stadium,” said Binder.

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Cumber’s ad accuses Davis of taking more than $300,000 from the utility to push privatization and includes an audio clip of Davis talking about privatization as recently as August of 2022.

“I think more privatization should take place in the city of Jacksonville,” said Davis in the audio Cumber’s campaign attributes to an August 16th event held at the Timuquana Country Club.

Davis’ ad accuses Cumber of voting to support expanded pension benefits for JEA employees if the utility were sold.

It also attacks her husband, former JEA board member Husein Cumber.

The ad accuses him of “consulting with interested buyers of JEA” and claims he was “forced” to testify in the grand jury investigation that led to the indictment of former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn.

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“He is lobbing lies about me and now about my family,” said Councilmember Cumber.

Cumber dismissed the accusations, and pointed the finger back at Davis.

“He is the only one in this race who was paid. Paid to promote  the sale of JEA and who is still talking about that we should privatize,” said Cumber.

Davis’ campaign has so far declined to comment on the accusations made against him in Cumber’s ad.

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