“The best is yet to come for Duval — you will see my name on the ballot.”
Multiple sources have confirmed that former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown told a crowd of Democrats Wednesday evening that he has at least one more campaign in him.
And one source confirms the quote above from the meeting of the Duval Democrats — an audacious statement, and a long-awaited political rebirth after a tough loss two years ago, one that most Democrats didn’t see coming.
Brown’s comments were described as a “big announcement soon,” and Dems were told they should expect to see his name on a ballot soon.
But for what? That’s the question.
Brown has told at least one leading Jacksonville Democrat that his plan was to launch a campaign after Corrine Brown is out of the news, which could happen as soon as her November sentencing date. The former Jacksonville Mayor has been talking to consultants as well.
Lawson would present some challenges for Alvin Brown, whose name identification fades west of the Duval County line. In his primary election against Corrine Brown in 2016, Corrine Brown won just two counties of the 11 in the sprawling east-west North Florida district.
However, there is opportunity for a Jacksonville challenger against Lawson — especially a challenger with a proven donor track record.
Lawson’s fundraising thus far is credible — $190,126 raised (all but $51,000 of that from committees), with $97,876 cash on hand. However, he only raised roughly $32,000 in Q3 — a potentially worrying sign.
Meanwhile, Alvin Brown — though he lost to Republican Mayor Lenny Curry in 2015 — didn’t do so for lack of resources.
His political committee brought in $2.85 million, reported the Florida Times-Union, along with $750,369 in hard money, and $1.37 million from in-kind contributions.
Lawson has attempted to build Duval bona fides, but as an older politician much more yoked to Tallahassee than to Duval, there clearly is opportunity for Brown.
That opportunity is burnished, we hear, by Corrine Brown showing Alvin Brown around D.C. in recent weeks. Brown, we hear, is excited to get back up there — a place he worked during the Clinton Administration.
Brown has deep connections with Congressional Black Caucus members as well, which could help his primary insurgency.
Though Corrine Brown wants to bring the seat back to Duval, Jacksonville’s leading politician is much more agnostic.
However, when asked about the unique utility of having Alvin Brown — a former mayor, one who knows City Hall’s needs — in Congress, Mayor Curry seemed nonplussed.
“I have a great working relationship with the delegation in and around Duval County, including Al Lawson. I’m not going to get into encouraging folks to challenge incumbents or not challenge incumbents. They’re going to have to make those decisions. But I have a great working relationship with Al Lawson,” Curry said.
Curry would not assess in any meaningful way any unique value add Brown would bring to Congress for Jacksonville.
Brown could be hurt most if other candidates, such as State Sen. Audrey Gibson, get into the scrum — splitting the Jacksonville vote.
Gibson has yet to reply to a message from Wednesday evening seeking comment.