Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Heavy Hitter Don Brewer Dies Heart Attack Takes `True Blue Republican'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Heavy Hitter Don Brewer Dies Heart Attack Takes `True Blue Republican'

Article excerpt

Don Brewer, a force in Duval County politics who championed the renaissance of the local Republican Party, died of a heart attack Saturday afternoon while hiking in South Carolina. He was 58.

Mr. Brewer was the first Republican city councilman in consolidated Jacksonville, serving two terms from 1971 to 1979, and was chairman of the Duval County Republican Party from 1992 to 1998.

An insurance and business consultant, he was most recently the county's Republican state committeeman.

Mr. Brewer was responsible for drawing many top Republican political officeholders into public service in the past 20 years, including Mayor John Delaney and former state Sen. Bill Bankhead, who was recently appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to lead the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Bush, who's known Mr. Brewer for 15 years and credits him with helping him win the 1999 governor's race, called Mr. Brewer a "true-blue Republican."

"The Republican Party is the dominant party now in Jacksonville, but it wasn't that way that long ago, and Don Brewer is perhaps the main reason why we've been so successful," Bush said.

"A lot of people in politics just raise money and some just like to do the grass-roots stuff and others are good at the ideas side of it," Bush said. "Don, I think, understood all facets of what politics means. It's all that. He'll be sorely missed."

Mr. Brewer's death shocked his friends and those he guided in public service.

"This is a body blow. I still can't accept it because he was so vibrant and energetic," said Delaney, who was first courted by Mr. Brewer to run in the 1995 mayoral election, which he won. "I sort of thought he was invincible."

Bankhead, a friend of Mr. Brewer's since they attended Terry Parker High School in the late 1950s, said Mr. Brewer first encouraged him to represent Jacksonville in the state House of Representatives in 1979.

Bankhead won, served 10 years in the House and 10 years in the state Senate before his recent appointment. …

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