NPR host Al Letson blasts Congressional candidate Alvin Brown

Al Letson

The news never slows down in the Democratic primary battle in Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Just one day after former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown touted a swath of Jacksonville endorsements that included that of Lisa King, the chair of the Duval County Democrats, an NPR host from Jacksonville pilloried former Mayor Brown.

“For example: let’s say you are the first black mayor of a large southern city… all these hopes and dreams are pinned to you,” NPR host Al Letson Tweeted, “but you won’t stand for anything cause rich republicans put you in power… (American politics makes for strange bedfellows). All those hopes and dreams just flap in the wind.”

Brown’s ascension to the mayor’s office was fueled by traditionally Republican donors pivoting to him instead of the hard right Mike Hogan in 2011; once in office, Brown struck a deliberately non-partisan posture until the waning days of his re-election bid.

Letson then pointed out the attrition in African-American vote in 2015, along with Brown’s own demeanor, as a way of telling Brown that perhaps he shouldn’t run for Congress.

“You get voted out cause you didn’t do anything, you didn’t talk to your base, took for granted that blk ppl will carry you. And generally acted like the city owed you something. Maybe instead of standing up later for hirer office you should sit down,” Letson asserted.

“There is enough inertia in DC without you joining the party. if you show up to events for a photo op, but don’t roll up your sleeves when it’s time to put in work… maybe you should sit down,” Letson added.

Letson then finished off with a shot across the bow of Brown’s current messaging as a moderate Democrat, castigating the former mayor for his fecklessness on an LGBT rights ordinance that some say Brown squashed with behind the scenes influence.

“If you don’t have the stones to stand for basic human rights in city politics… I mean dude, BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS, like, employers can’t fire someone because they are gay… I mean that’s basic. If you [can’t] stand for it on a local level… Don’t stand for a national seat,” Letson asserted.

LGBT rights were codified in city ordinance soon after Brown left office.

Letson’s blast of Brown is the clearest crystallization yet of resistance to the former mayor’s political rebirth by progressives who remember those four years locally.

Brown, when running for re-election in 2015, was ambivalent about his Democratic Party connections.

The apogee of that ambivalence was when, after a debate with current Mayor Lenny Curry, Brown professed to be unaware of what Curry was talking about when he said that Brown was a 2012 delegate for President Barack Obama.

Brown was left without allies on the right and the left in the end. Hopes of bringing in former President Obama or First Lady Michelle Obama were dashed, and Gov. Rick Scott endorsed his friend Lenny Curry, neatly kneecapping years of co-branding between Mayor Brown and the Governor.

Brown’s reinvention comes at a time when he is running against a candidate, Al Lawson, who became nationally prominent in the last week for being the only Congressional Black Caucus member to applaud President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address.

Requests for comment from the Brown campaign were not immediately returned.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Denise Hunt

    February 8, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    I knew that endorsement from Democratic chair, Lisa King was a bad omen for Alvin Brown. Al Letson is bringing the heat that many Black folks feel, but the alternative is considered a Republican proxy that appears to love spending cash from Trump’s cronies, and that perception is gonna be hard to shake in the Black community in Duval County. This race will come down to messenging that speaks to the issues Black folks care about NOW.

    • Mario

      February 8, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      Denise, your points are very well taken. There’s is an alternative in the district 5 race. He’s 29 years old. He’s very experienced, and he’s a progressive candidate who cares about his people. I actually think if given the chance, he has the potential to win a statewide race in his mid 30s. His personal story will bring you to tears! You should check him out:

  • Frankie M.

    February 8, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Let’s face it. Brown & Letson are the same DINO guy. Letson is essentially governing as Brown did as mayor. They’re both hypocrites trying to curry favor with the ruling classes while taking their base for granted. As far as the HRO goes does anyone really believe Letson would’ve done it any differently?? He would’ve become a turtle just like Brown & Curry.

    • Raef

      February 9, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Wow, Frankie. You clearly don’t know Al Letson, and have never met him. He never waivers, never flip flops. He is one of the purest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

    • Lisa Goodrich

      February 9, 2018 at 3:32 pm

      Frankie, I think you mean Lawson, not Letson. Al Letson is not a politician (though many wish he’d run, myself included). And, I know Al letson, I can assure you that if he were governing, he’d never sit idly by while HRO debates were raging, or not. He’d be leading the charge for equality for all. As an aside, I’d never support Alvin Brown based purely on his complete lack of leadership as Mayor. What a wasted opportunity.

      • James Smith

        February 10, 2018 at 5:24 pm

        I’d support the Letson/Goodrich ticket.

        • Lisa Goodrich

          February 11, 2018 at 1:50 pm

          Only if you’d serve in our Cabinet.

Comments are closed.


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