Is Jack Porter’s campaign versus Elaine Bryant what new progressivism looks like?

bryant, elaine

The City of Tallahassee is nearly 200 years old. And in that long history the City Commission has never had a majority minority Commission. 

After an appointment was made to fill the seat once held by Scott Maddox, three Black Americans  serve as a majority on the Commission – good for them, good for Tallahassee.

But my friend — and occasional progressive ally — state Representative Anna Eskamani of Orlando, is working towards a goal that would undo that.  

Eskamani has endorsed a post-millennial white woman who is seeking to unseat Elaine Bryant, a Black Tallahasseean with deep roots in the community.

I don’t know Elaine Bryant well. Reading her bio I see she grew up in the South, managed to get herself through college with advanced degrees and is considered by those who know her as a voice of reason, a thoughtful intelligent woman and someone who is pushing to change the culture of corruption in Tallahassee. And, to be clear, Bryant is a voice pushing for racial and social justice for the city’s beleaguered Southside.

However, this well-establish Black woman is not radical enough for the new progressives. In fact, Florida’s own AOC – our embodiment of the far left – is reaching halfway across the state to unseat her and is hosting a fundraiser for her opponent. And if Eskamani is successful, Tallahassee’s City Commission will go back to having a majority white Commission.

Like I said, I don’t know Elaine Bryant well, but I’ll make a few assumptions. As a Black woman growing up in the South, she has had to endure more than her fair share of racism, sexism and social injustices. As a Black woman who grew up in the South, Elaine Bryant is far better equipped than I am to truly and deeply understand what the Black community needs, what social inequity looks like and how to bend the arc of justice in the right direction.

Her opponent is a 25-year old white woman who thinks she knows better about Black Lives Matter and social justice. 

Apparently Commissioner Bryant, who has had to endure six decades of racism and sexism, just isn’t pissed off enough to satisfy her progressive opponents. 

Is this what new progressivism looks like? Young white people telling Black folks what’s in their best interests?   

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


20 comments

  • Rev. Andy Oliver

    July 5, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    This opinion piece is why I don’t give Florida Politics much weight. You base your entire premise on her bio after claiming you don’t know her well? You can’t even get Porter’s age correct—fact error. How about some real reporting? Desperate for click bait I guess. Can you tell me any policy Bryant has championed that support your position? Jack Porter is who Tallahassee needs—not some appointed puppet of the Chamber. Porter stands with the people. Race and representation is important. But you need look no further than St. Pete’s own Wengay Newton to know it’s not the only thing one should look at.

    Great job writing a hit piece with talking points from Bryant’s campaign. Not journalism.

    • Peter Schorsch

      July 5, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      That’s too bad you think that Rev. I don’t remember reading that kind of criticism when our opinions were allied with yours.

      I, for one, think Rep. Newton is an excellent politician who, while starting off a bit rocky, has blossomed into a true voice for his community.

      Anyway, your non-sequiturs “Desperate for click bait I guess” are unbecoming. I didn’t want your comment to go without a response. If you’d like to discuss further, let me know.

      • Rev. Andy Oliver

        July 5, 2020 at 4:57 pm

        Anytime Peter. I would say reach me through Facebook, but it appears you blocked me after deleting my comment on the Facebook story.

        I see you edited your fact error. I can’t believe you don’t see how this article of yours hurts your credibility and the credibility of your site.

  • Margaret Moore

    July 5, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    “Like I said, I don’t know Elaine Bryant well, but I’ll make a few assumptions”

    Your discussion is done. You’re use of blackness as a shield from investigation or criticism is racist in and of itself.

    You’re not hearing a lot of black voices like Stanley Sims‘s who stood up in a townhall recently and said, “It’s not just white knees on our necks, it’s black knees too.” He said that looking into my eyes when I asked him what this city needed.

    Please do more research and talk to some black folk about how they feel about things before making your assumptions based on the color of her skin.

    • L

      July 5, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      I can’t believe someone would attach their photo and name to this garbage opinion piece. What good does a majority minority Commission do when the majority minority doesn’t do much of anything at all, and even less for the minorities they are supposedly representing? This piece reads, quite literally, as “vote for Bryant because she’s Black”.

      Bryant is so un-progressive that she’s done nothing for the people of Tallahassee. She became a seat warmer when Maddox was indicted and has remained as such.

  • Sierra Bush Rester

    July 5, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Why are you dismissing the countless Black voices that are supporting Jack? The people of Tallahassee didn’t even vote for Bryant. She was appointed by the same corrupt commission that turned a blind eye to corruption for so long that the FBI had to get involved! Bryant is backed by special interests. Seriously go check out who funds her campaign. Jack is backed by the ppl. Jacks entire campaign is being funded by regular tally folks not special interests and developers. Jack will fight for the people not developers and corruption in City Hall.

  • Kris

    July 5, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    As a person of color that is helping Jack’s campaign alongside many other Black and Brown individuals from Tallahassee AND other places across the state supporting Jack, I am offended that identity politics is what it’s coming down to. As someone said in her comment on your facebook post: “identity politics isn’t the same thing as progressive policy.” As an organizer with years in the movement on different campaigns, I am solely dedicated to campaigns that build Black and Brown political power in a real way. Chamber appointed, special interest backed, developer supported individuals regardless of their melanin level are not what’s good for Black communities. Period.

  • L Johnson

    July 5, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    I’m not sure why your publication is commenting on an election you seemingly know nothing about, in a city you seemingly have no direct ties to. I’m lucky enough to be working with a broad-based coalition of people of every creed and color to support my candidate of choice in Tallahassee. I can tell you that, politely, your journalism flies in the face of the reality on the ground.

  • LINDIESUE

    July 5, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    I’m damn tired of black folks and loony leftist whites telling me who I am (Racist, homophobe, sexist, xenophobe and on and on). Fed the hell up with it. We’ve been pouring billions into the inner cities since the civil rights era – during which they had every right to protest and were very brave to do so. They were absolute heroes. However, where does the money go? Why does no one ask? Why are conditions and the crime rate worse? It’s sad and a shame – but factual. What do their liberal Democrat leaders do with the money? Why are they against school choice? Why don’t they want their babies to get a great education so that they can compete in the marketplace and do far better than the white woman writing this comment? That’s what I hope for for all black children and for every American. Most whites are not racist nor were they born in privilege. Another fallacy I’m sick of hearing. The left is tearing this country apart and it started in 2009 as soon as Obama was inaugurated. My conservative biracial sons have been told they are not black enough and that they are traitors to their race. All Democrats/liberals accept this.

  • Tabitha Frazier

    July 5, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    This is some race baiting BS and you called an outspoken, educated woman who has the courage to throw her hat in the ring for elected office, and who is only in her in 20’s an “Old white lady” .. What is wrong with you? There have a literally been books written about sexist attitudes like yours towards outspoken women running for office.

  • Kris

    July 5, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Also – fix the “post-millenial”. She’s not a post-millenial. Also.. “kids”? Adults, you mean. We are adults. late 20s, early, mid, late 30s.

    • Dave

      July 7, 2020 at 9:18 pm

      Kris, I think “post-millenial” was supposed to be a compliment.

  • Enrique

    July 5, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Give us a break.I live in Tallahassee.You didn’t discuss one issue besides race as though in 2020,that’s all that matters.Where is the affordable housing in Tallahassee?The City of Tallahassee just approved the expansion of the East side which it will cost $100 millions to developed subsidizing the Developers in this town where the cheapest house will cost $200,000. How would Tallahassee look like if we invested those $100 millions in the South Side where the Majority of Black community lives?Another great Republican hiding behind race while the Republican Party is doing everything not to implement Amendment 4 in the state?Has Florida expanded Medicaid?No. Write a column about the issues and policies.

  • Andrea Zang

    July 5, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    here’s some background info for those who might not be in the loop: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/284299-elaine-bryant-appointed-to-tallahassee-city-commission

    Thank you for writing this piece Peter! I believe it opens up an important conversation about how systemic racism actually operates. I hope that as a white person you, like me, and taking some time to learn more about this to then translate this knowledge into action and solidarity. Lord knows our education system didn’t teach us enough about this topic!

    I was also thinking, that for your next piece on this topic, you could actually interview Elaine Bryant? I feel like that could add some value and nuance to your argument? It is important to give Black candidates for office, now more than ever, a platform to talk about their experiences in a white supremacist society. Obviously I’m not a journalist though, and I’m also not super familiar with the expectations for an opinion piece format like this, so maybe that wouldn’t work. But I am sure Commissioner Bryant could add a lot more information to an article compared to what you got from just reading her bio!

    Again, thanks for writing this article! I hope to see more pieces from you that center the experiences and writing of BIPOC Floridians, on the campaign trail and in other areas of politics. Based on your bio you seem very accomplished and I’m sure using your high position in media you could give a state and national platform to so many people and voices that are left out everyday of political decision-making in our state.

    Andrea

    • Peter Schorsch

      July 5, 2020 at 6:57 pm

      I graduated from FSU. Have lived there for extended periods several times. I still travel to Tallahassee about twenty times a year. Employ a dozen people who work there. Do business with 100 people who live there. Am a member of the Capitol Press Corps.

      It’s not at all that this “dude” cares about Tallahassee.

  • Ariel Ynovy

    July 5, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    This title is how you KNOW the writer knows nothing about being progressive. Yes, I am rooting for everybody Black, BUT skin folk ain’t always kinfolk. You don’t care about marginalized groups one bit and this article shows it. Just because a Black person is running DOES NOT mean they’re the best candidate, ever.

    Jack Porter for Tallahassee City Commission, Seat 1 is a people powered campaign. Check the campaign finance records for both of these candidates and then you’ll see who is really about being progressive 🥱. #votejack and volunteer at jackfortallahassee.com!

  • George W.

    July 5, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    What you’ve posted doesn’t qualify as journalism on any professional level. You said absolutely nothing about the record of the incumbent. You said absolutely nothing about the incumbent’s election platform. You said absolutely nothing about the challenger’s platform. You said virtually nothing about the coalitions behind either candidate. You did say one was young and white while the other is older and black. That doesn’t pass for political analysis anywhere. I enjoy much of what is posted on this site, but this post is a total dumpster fire. Do some introspection. Admit you blew it. Do better next time.

  • Isabella

    July 5, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    When the publisher of Florida Politics himself, who does not live in Tallahassee, decides to smear a grassroots candidate in the capital city, we can say with certainty that special interests feel threatened because their development deals are at stake. Corruption runs deep in this city and this state, in politics and in media, and this website is no exception. I am a lifelong resident of Tallahassee, and I have had it with the rampant development and all the luxury condos that stand empty while people experiencing homelessness go almost completely unserved. Jack Porter has my vote.

  • Inyra

    July 14, 2020 at 3:11 am

    Jacqueline “Jack” Porter’s campaign is funded almost entirely by small donations from regular folks. Ms. Bryant’s war chest shows 32% came from cronies in construction, engineering companies, law firms and attorneys, developers, and property management firms.
    In fact, 25 donations came from the upscale housing developments Arbor Trace at Canopy on Welaunee Blvd (1 BR/1Bath apartments start at $1149/mo); Arbor Crossing at Buck Lake (1/BR/1Bath starts at $1129/mo); Arbor Landing at Lake Jackson (1 BR/1Bath starts at $1159); Arbor Station II (1BR/1Bath starts at $994); Arbor Properties, Inc. None of these properties are affordable housing, which Tallahassee desperately needs. Worse, though, is that all these “Arbor” properties are presided over by William Gordon Thames. He is the same businessman tied to the FBI’s indictment of, investigation into, and evidence against former commissioner Scott Maddox. According to the indictment, Maddox profited from nearly $140,000 from Arbor Properties and its affiliates from late 2012 to early 2017. Please read this news article: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2019/01/12/scott-maddox-indictment-fbi-subpoenas-paige-carter-smith/2546585002/

    Ms. Bryant’s campaign finance reports show on 12/06/19 that she paid $4,414 to VancoreJones Communications Llc for their political services. Is it coincidence that this is the same firm that has made more than $856,380 off contracts with the city, county and the joint Blueprint agency, which is funded through sales-tax dollars? VancoreJones is well known in the wealthiest circles in town as having a long list of big wig political, government and private-sector clients. Is it coincidence VancoreJones is heavily linked to the Ghazvini family, that is behind the massive Canopy development that was awarded tax payer money (which should have been used for desperately needed infrastructure and affordable housing), and who we now see has also donated well to Bryant’s campaign? Please read this news article: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Vm70dZRuz7oJ:https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2020/01/16/man-behind-curtain-how-drew-jones-wields-influence-tallahassee-lobbyists-consultants-vancorejones/2691591001/+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    I don’t believe in coincidences like these…I hope that voters are fed up. We do not need someone like Ms. Bryant who was handed the commission seat by the same old cronies, now pays big money to the same old crony movers and shakers, and enjoys money from some of the same old crony entities as the indicted Scott Maddox did. In fact, it all stinks to high heaven and doesn’t reflect the needs and best interests of all us little people. It’s time for a fresh and clean slate like Jack Porter will bring to the table. As will Geraldine H Seay, who’s running for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 2.

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