Rontel Batie is not the incumbent in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District; that’s Al Lawson.
Nor is he the former mayor of the biggest city in the district: that’s Alvin Brown.
Nonetheless, Batie (who carried a meager $4,314 cash on hand out of 2017, compared to Lawson’s $100,531), asserts that “this race is far from over.”
In an email late Wednesday, Batie served up zingers about Lawson and Brown both.
“Al Lawson broke with the CBC and was seen cheering on President Trump during his State of the Union address. This was done in spite of Trump’s yearlong assault on black men who’ve used their platforms to protest injustice, like Jay-Z, Lavar Ball and NFL players who kneel during the anthem,” Batie wrote.
“Also, Alvin Brown, Jacksonville’s former Mayor who lost his reelection after being singled out for being one of the only Democrats in the country to refuse to support President Obama in 2012, (among many other political missteps), has entered the race,” Batie added.
Both of these assertions are questionable: Lawson tepidly applauded Trump saying that black unemployment was down, and Brown was an Obama re-election delegate.
Batie also served up two new endorsements.
Luis Zaldivar, the President of Northeast Florida Democratic Progressive Caucus, asserted that Batie “embodies the values that will move Duval County forward.”
Former Lake City Commissioner Glenel Bowden called Batie “the only progressive candidate in the race.”
Batie isn’t going away, and this occasions parallels to the 2016 race, where underfunded L.J. Holloway sheared votes from Lawson and Corrine Brown.
Lawson won the three way primary with just over 47 percent of the vote, with Brown coming in with 38 percent. Holloway, who had little fundraising momentum and few meaningful endorsements, was able to undercut Corrine Brown on the eastern side of the district.
Could history repeat in the 2018 primary?
Batie is in the race through August, and it’s entirely possible that Lawson could again win the nomination with less than 50 percent of the vote, via a spoiler candidate who doesn’t do enough to win, but who does enough to ensure the Jacksonville candidate can’t.