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Another Duval Dem urges controversial state committeeman to step down

Time appears to be running out for John Parker as state committeman for the Duval County Democrats, as another party officer on Tuesday called on Parker to step down after using controversial language during a January dinner.

Parker, who used the phrase “colored people” during a dinner conversation with other party members and officials that offended many at the table, has come under fire from fellow Democrats (most notably his wife, Chairwoman Lisa King, who urged her husband to step down) and Republicans alike in the last week, since reporting began about the incident.

The latest friend of Parker’s to call for him to relinquish his position: Daniel Henry.

The Secretary of the Duval County Democratic Party considers Parker a friend.

“But sometimes friends have to tell friends hard truths,” Henry writes. “As Secretary of the Duval County Democratic Party, a person present on the night of the statements, and a Precinct Committeeman represented by John Parker – I feel John’s continued service is a distraction our party can no longer accept.”

Henry describes the dinner that has wreaked so much havoc on the Duval Dems: “After a general meeting on January 22nd, several DEC members, including myself, went to a local restaurant to unwind and grab a bit to eat. After a lengthy discussion on the effects on Jacksonville’s consolidation, John Parker made racially inappropriate comments that shocked me.”

“After the meeting,” Henry added, “I had a frank conversation with John about his comments. Being someone who believes in redemption, I implored him to not only apologize to all parties present, but to truly come to understand why his comments were offensive and diminish us all. I also asked that if he couldn’t genuinely do this, he should resign.”

Henry notes that Parker “apologized to James Morton and several others shortly thereafter.”

“I thought the matter was resolved. However, after reading both the grievance filed by the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida and John’s recent statement to the press, I’ve come to question John’s level of contrition and his judgement in the way he responded,” Henry writes.

Parker gave Florida Politics a statement days ago; he said he “absolutely would not” resign.

That won’t fly with Henry, who says that “regardless of the filed grievance’s outcome, John Parker can no longer be an effective party leader nor an appropriate representative of the Precinct Committee People he is sworn to represent.”

The Duval Democrats are slated to have a meeting to work out a grievance process Thursday; currently the group lacks a formal one, which delays formal action against Parker.

The Florida Democratic Party will have its hearing on Parker’s grievance Apr. 15.

What is clear: Parker has few allies left.

With elected Democrats demanding that the party figure this out and move forward, urging that King and Parker consider party unity, it appears Parker is almost out of time.

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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