As the campaign heats up in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, Congressman Al Lawson, facing a primary challenge from former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, will have reinforcements on the ground in Duval County.
Primary among them: Darren Mason, who is a former Duval Democrats vice-chair, former assistant to Jacksonville City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan and a current at-large council candidate.
Lawson, whose district runs from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, is struggling with traction and visibility in the eastern edge of the region. His staff tends to be from the Tallahassee side; a former aide with deep Duval roots, Jenny Busby, has moved on to work for the Gwen Graham campaign.
Though the vast majority of Duval Democratic activists, including Duval DEC Chair Lisa King, have fallen in behind Brown, Mason is a notable exception.
“As long as I have known him for the past six years,” Mason said, “Lawson has been a consistent leader in office and out of office. He has been an advocate for our local first responders. I built a good working relationship during my time in city hall with his office in addressing several Housing issues specific in the Justina Community.”
“I keep hearing this is a Jacksonville seat. And I should just fall in line,” Mason said.
“But to me, it’s not [a Jacksonville seat], it’s the people’s seat of the 5th Congressional District,” Mason said. “And we need someone that has a heart to lead the entire district.”
“So, when it comes to the blowback. I’m not worried about it at all,” he continued. “I’m running for city council in March 2019 to be an independent voice for my city.”
“Regardless,” Mason added, “this is not about the best political move to me. It’s has always been about the issues and the people to me. As I continue to lay out my plan and vision to constituents across this great city, I have faith in the voters that they will make the right choice on the ballot to serve them.”
Mason faces a cash gap in his Council race, with opponent Ron Salem boasting $156,000 cash on hand as of the end of May; Mason has under $500.