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A.G. Gancarski’s 5 people to watch in Jacksonville politics in 2016

The theory of recurrence is something not unique to Jacksonville politics. In this list of five people who likely will be in the headlines, there are some familiar names.

Alvin Brown: The one-term Jacksonville mayor took some time off after his narrow defeat in the May election. He surfaced on very rare occasions, through media statements. Slowly but surely, though, Brown is emerging from his period of incubation.

This spring finds the former mayor with a Teaching Fellowship at Georgetown University’s school of Politics and Public Policy. Currently, say those close to him, he is hard at work putting a syllabus together and preparing for a role at one of America’s top schools.

However, there is a school of thought that says Brown may be willing to run in Congressional District 5 as the Jacksonville candidate against Al Lawson. That, though, is if the opportunity arises and Corrine Brown moves downstate to continue her political career, still an open question even with the federal lawsuit reopened on Tuesday. Alvin Brown, with tenures in the Bush 43 and Clinton administrations, has what it takes to get support, both among rank-and-file Democrats who still haven’t fully recovered from the mayoral race and from Jacksonville’s money contingent, who see Brown as the surest path for local retention of the seat.

Lots would have to happen to get to that point, but we’re told Brown expects to come back to Jacksonville frequently while stationed in Georgetown. In that capacity, he will be able to test the waters, and if Corrine Brown is out, Alvin Brown is more of a sure thing than other names that have been floated (Tony HillMia Jones, and Audrey Gibson).

And, if as is currently expected, Corrine Brown stands her ground and runs in CD 5? Alvin Brown won’t be going away. Expect him to be a presence during the General Election for Hillary Clinton. Brown, a political survivor, will have a second act.

Kim Daniels: A print ad she ran before the March First Election read, “I’m not missing: here I am!” Though Daniels lost her At Large City Council seat in May, she hasn’t disappeared from the scene completely. Some claim she’s looking at the state House District 14 race to succeed Mia Jones, in which she would would run against Leslie Jean-Bart and Terry Fields.

Daniels, whom no one would mistake for a titan of the legislative process during her four years on City Council, and who was pilloried for her opposition to Human Rights Ordinance expansion (a “bad bill” supported by “some of the meanest people I have ever met,” she said in the spring), may be uniquely positioned in a three-way primary to draw on support from the evangelical community. Many of them are opposed to HRO expansion and will see her stance not as a negative but a positive.

Sam Mousa: No, he’s not running for anything. But the work Mousa has put into running the offense for Mayor Lenny Curry has made Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer one of the most compelling people to cover in City Hall. From an ambitious capital improvement program to attempting to streamline processes in the mayor’s suite, while cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with the power players on Council, Mousa has been the MVP of 2015 locally.

Corrine Brown: Will she stay? Will she go? To Orlando or not? Corrine Brown has stuck doggedly to her contentions that her redrawn district is not winnable, though all indications now are that she’s going to fight for it anyway, Al Lawson notwithstanding. Locals, including Republicans, want her to stick around. Even though the media reduces her to a caricature, covering her with a viciousness most politicians in this corner of the world will never encounter, Brown is still the most valuable Washington legislator for Northeast Florida.

John Crescimbeni: While there are other names being floated for the next City Council vice presidency, Crescimbeni’s is the most interesting. Some say he already has nine committed supporters; all he’ll need is 10. A Crescimbeni vice presidency would put him in line to be council president in 2017, right around the time one might expect council pushback against the Curry administration (if, indeed, that ever manifests). The conservative Democrat would make for the most interesting foil to Curry, and would (especially as president) be in a position to create policy and stylistic contrasts with the mayor. Crescimbeni is media savvy, and he certainly understands The Process as well as anyone this side of Bill Gulliford.

Crescimbeni, as council president, likely wouldn’t be in the Greg Anderson “above the fray” mold. For those tasked with covering politics in Jacksonville, that would be the most interesting scenario.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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