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Rep. Al Lawson again is turning attention to regional food security issues.

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Is Al Lawson in trouble? Re-election to Congress may be in doubt

Alvin Brown, the former Jacksonville mayor running in the Democratic Primary for Florida’s 5th Congressional District, may be positioning himself to do the unthinkable and capsize incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.

Brown enjoyed a two-to-one fundraising advantage during the first quarter of 2018: $167,088 to $83,866.

Lawson had $100,000 cash on hand at the end of 2017, before Brown got in the race. Now Lawson has just under $160,000 and Brown has just over $127,000.

Can Brown maintain the momentum? That remains to be seen.

Some interesting donors populated Brown’s Q1 report, though not really enough of them.

One such donor: 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, who went in for $250.

Local NAACP head Isaiah Rumlin checked in at $2,000. Former CSX head Michael Ward gave $2,700, as did John Baker and JU President Tim Cost.

Brown is light on corporate PAC money, and that’s where Lawson has an edge. Walmart, Boeing, Duke Energy, Rayonier, CSX, cotton and peanut interests all contributed.

Lawson also got Republican money, again, this time from “Friends of Mike H,” the political committee of lobbyist and former Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Brown officially launches his campaign next Saturday, with a late morning event at Jacksonville’s IBEW Hall — the meeting place of Duval Democrats.

Lawson, who vowed to retire Brown when the former Mayor entered the race, has got to get his campaign architecture right. While he has hired a senior consultant, the fact remains that Lawson’s campaign apparatus was essentially untested in 2016.

Recall that his victory was over Corrine Brown, who was facing indictment and eventual conviction for the “One Door for Education” scheme. Corrine Brown’s fundraising was anemic, due to not being able to campaign effectively.

Alvin Brown is facing no indictments, no legal clouds. The worst that can be said about him was he was too centrist as Jacksonville Mayor.

Al Lawson needs to show some real fundraising and real momentum, and needs to figure out outreach to Jacksonville.

His staff’s major connection to the city, the connected Jenny Busby, has moved on to Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial campaign.

Lawson has had almost two years to figure it out. Now he has four months.

Can he get it done? Or will Alvin Brown finally (recall that he ran in 1994) go to Congress?

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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