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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Is Mike Hogan running for Mayor of Tea Party or Mayor of Jacksonville?

From the Florida Times Union

by Jim Schoettler

Jacksonville mayoral first round frontrunner Mike Hogan has chosen comfort over challenge tonight as he plans to appear at an event sponsored by the First Coast Tea Party and avoid a televised debate an hour later.

Hogan's choice five days before the March 22 election continues his campaign's strategy of cherry-picking which forums and debates he attends. Those decisions have depended in part on the sponsor and, according to the campaign, whether he has prior conflicts. The strategy of avoidance has drawn criticism from the Republican's challengers and others.

A "Breaking News" email sent Wednesday by the local Tea Party, which recently unanimously endorsed Hogan, encouraged members join in an "interactive Tele-Town talk directly with Mike about the issues that matter most to Jacksonville's future and to Jacksonville taxpayers."

The phone-in event will be hosted by Tea Party Executive Director Billie Tucker beginning at 7 p.m., an hour before the televised debate. She said she expected her event to last 45 minutes to an hour.

"We would love to have you ask questions, hear his answers and learn more about the person we felt would best represent the people of Jacksonville," the email said.

Tucker told the Times-Union this morning she had been planning the event for weeks and had spoken to Hogan about it shortly after her group's March 2 endorsement of him. Tucker said this was the first night the event could be held after finalizing the arrangements and that it wasn't meant to purposely coincide with the televised debate by being on the same night.

Hogan' primary opponents - Democrat Alvin Brown and Republicans Audrey Moran and Rick Mullaney - will join challengers Steve Irvine and Warren Lee for the 90-minute TV debate on WJCT beginning at 8 p.m.

An audience of about 30 people has been invited to ask questions along with a panel of journalists; the Times-Union will have a live blog available on The topics are to include public health and safety.

Hogan has previously told WJCT he did not plan to attend tonight's debate. He appeared at a second debate televised by WJCT, during which he failed to answer a question for nearly 15 minutes. He also was at Monday's televised "forum" put on by WJXT, during which he avoided a hostile scrum involving Moran and Mullaney.

Read and Friday's Times-Union for updates.


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