Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Undecideds for Mayor Keep People Guessing; Glover, Mullaney Entries Would Make Race Hotter

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Undecideds for Mayor Keep People Guessing; Glover, Mullaney Entries Would Make Race Hotter

Article excerpt

Byline: David DeCamp, Times-Union staff writer

In a crowded Jacksonville mayoral race where campaign cash is becoming like oxygen, two potential candidates in 2003 are giving the field the hiccups.

Popular Sheriff Nat Glover, a Democrat, and General Counsel Rick Mullaney, a Republican who is city government's top lawyer, are both giving a mayoral bid plenty of thought. Neither is supposed to announce a decision until after Jan. 1, said Mullaney and sheriff's spokesman Harry Reagan.

However, the seven active campaigns are feeling the effect of their potential candidacies, from following the rumor mill to fund raising. The race is expected to be tight, and more than $2 million has been raised already. The threat of a potential serious competitor could make some trailing candidates appear weaker, said Democratic Party Chairman Clyde Collins. Meanwhile, front-runners gain.

Potential candidates have little time beyond January to launch their campaigns because of the crowded field, Mullaney and strategists with various campaigns say. Qualifying is Feb. 25to March 4.

"It takes a lot to run for mayor," Collins said. "Not only do you have a certain experience, you have to have a certain network. . . . It's grueling, it is a full body contact sport."

As a Democratic Party stalwart, Glover's strength long has been borne out in polls that indicate he's a contender, despite a few scandals on his watch. Many analysts expect him, as the city's first black sheriff, to galvanize African-American voters. He would immediately make the election tougher for Democratic candidate Tommy Hazouri, who is currently the only major Democrat among seven candidates running in the April 15 election.

Glover is still deciding whether to run for sheriff or mayor, said Steve Pajcic, a Democrat fund-raiser who supports Glover. He would not address a recent poll conducted for the sheriff, except to say Glover would not make a decision based on a poll.

But Mullaney's ascendance has caught some Republicans by surprise since he began considering a bid in November. Besides his powerful job now, he has been a prosecutor and mayoral chief of staff. …

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