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Al Lawson takes cash lead, momentum into CD 5 Dem primary home stretch

Conditions are looking favorable for U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to win his primary battle over former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown in Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Lawson, ahead by more than 20 points in the only public poll of the race, endorsed by Brown’s local Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville state Rep. Tracie Davis in recent days, is also ahead in cash on hand as of Aug. 8 — the last date for which candidates have filed financial reports.

Lawson, who has raised just over $503,823, had $131,143 on hand. Brown, who has raised $388,649, had $84,361.

Lawson seems confident in his chances, posting to Facebook that “FiveThirtyEight’s ongoing forecast of 2018 House elections currently places me at a 99.9% chance of winning back the 5th District seat.”

Brown’s touting some backing that he hopes will flip that script, however, including from one progressive group that will text people in the district in the next week.

“In the current political climate, it is unacceptable to have a conservative-Democrat representing a safely blue district. That’s why Build the Wave is proud to endorse Alvin Brown, a true progressive leader, for Congress in Florida’s 5th Congressional district,” said Nate Lerner, Grassroots Director for Build the Wave. “We’re confident Alvin will be a strong progressive voice in Congress who holds Trump and his allies accountable.”

As well, he’s touting endorsements from Jacksonville preachers, which coincide with Souls to the Polls during early voting weekends: “more than 30 faith leaders representing a large swath of the local faith community.”

Preachers had been part of Brown’s base during his term as a “conservative Democrat” Mayor of Jacksonville, and the big names backing him include Pastor John Guns, Bishop Rudolph McKissick, and Pastor Reginald Gundy.

Can these moves turn around a 22 point poll deficit?

Brown, who had a segment Monday on Jacksonville radio station WJCT (Lawson canceled the day before), expressed confidence despite what host Melissa Ross called a “David and Goliath battle,” citing a “strong outpouring of support” from local grassroots, teachers’ groups, and the AFL-CIO.

Brown also noted that his team has been campaigning aggressively, with a “good ground game” and support from the Democratic Party.

“Just yesterday, I spoke at seven houses of worship,” Brown said.

Duval County has 141,305 of District 5’s 255,673 Democrats, so this could help.

In the last two weeks, the Brown campaign has knocked on more than 5,000 doors and made nearly 2,000 phone calls, according to a Friday media release.

If Brown is able to overcome a 22 point deficit in the polls through grassroots and text messages, it would be a comeback for the ages.

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 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

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