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Reggie Brown makes challenge to Audrey Gibson official

The paperwork was filed on Friday: Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown threw down the gauntlet for a primary challenge against state Sen. Audrey Gibson.

But Florida Politics readers knew already.

“I am running,” Brown said in mid-January

And contrary to what some in Gibson’s orbit say, it’s Brown’s decision and move to make.

Gibson — the Senate Democrat’s Leader-designate — would seem like an unlikely primary target.

She has been in elected office since the 1990s, and gets donations from national corporations and political committees. Gibson carried $121,000 in her campaign account at the end of January.

However, Brown believes there is a case to make, that Gibson’s tenure is one of missed opportunities.

As he texted in January, “I am running [because] I believe I can bring more state $ to North Florida and the time to do it is now!”

There are those in Gibson’s orbit who have asserted that Brown is being pushed to run by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, as revenge for Gibson not supporting 2016’s pension reform referendum.

Curry’s team denied that, saying they don’t get involved in Democratic primaries. And Brown took offense to the suggestion in late January.

“I’ve never had that discussion with the Mayor’s team or the Mayor. This is a tactic used to distract our community,” Brown said, adding that “politicians on every level of government never agree on every issue; hence, to conclude that Mayor Curry is retaliating is an interesting position.”

“They are trying to discredit me in the community by saying I’m being pushed by the Mayor’s team … the people know differently and no one is buying the foolishness,” Brown said.

“I’ve served Jacksonville well and have used a balanced approach with local government to get things accomplished. If anyone has made a decision to support Reggie Brown,” the Councilman said, it’s because “I have a proven track record of moving both legislation and appropriations.”

Brown has been exploring a potential run for state Senate since late last year, and he discussed it in detail with us earlier in January.

Brown, when asked about Gibson getting support from state and national interests, wouldn’t say that Gibson was “out of touch” but did say that “there’s nothing like local politics.”

“I’ve been local for nine years. I’m very in touch with the community. I’m also in touch with Tallahassee, and I know things we aren’t getting done,” Brown said.

We have asked Gibson before about this primary challenge, and she has avoided comment, saying that she is busy with the Legislative Session and getting work done for constituents.

We are reaching out again, of course, and will update if she has a response.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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