In an unprecedented move, the Florida AFL-CIO waded into the Democratic primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, endorsing challenger Alvin Brown over incumbent Rep. Al Lawson.
Per an official statement, the endorsement came down to Brown’s record.
“Our members and their families in Jacksonville saw Mayor Brown’s commitment to the fundamental economic issues we care about,” said Mike Williams, President of the Florida AFL-CIO.
“Union members in Tallahassee have been inspired by his record in Jacksonville, and his dedication to working families is now well known across our movement in Florida. We are proud to give him our endorsement for Congress, and we look forward to working hard to send him to represent us in Washington,” Williams said.
Lawson’s campaign manager Phillip Singleton had a different take.
Namely, the union was “playing politics” with its endorsement.
“We find it very interesting that there has never been a situation where unions have endorsed a candidate over a sitting Democratic member of Congress. However, for over a month Congressman Lawson knew that the leadership in AFL-CIO was playing politics with this endorsement because of a vote in the Florida Legislature over a decade ago,” Singleton said.
“Now AFL-CIO has set a precedent where they endorsed a person with a track record of firing union workers, trying to balance budget deficits with union member pensions, and no true record of supporting union positions,” Singleton added.
Brown offered a statement of his own.
“Working families are the backbone of our economy, and I am honored to have the support of the AFL-CIO in this race. In Congress, I will always put workers, students and families first, and promote policies that help us build a fair economy that works for all — not just those at the top,” Brown said.
The endorsement theater in this primary has been particularly pitched. Recently, Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Lawson over the city’s former mayor.