Friday, December 18, 2015

Conservative Al Lawson Wants The New Tallahassee-Jacksonville Seat


Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and family

Florida's new east/west 5th congressional district takes in most of Tallahassee and Jacksonville and was thought to be a decent district for Corrine Brown, who currently represents one of the most egregiously gerrymandered districts in the U.S.-- still-named FL-05, which snakes along Route 17 from the African-American neighborhoods of Jacksonville to Palatka, then turns due west to the African-America neighborhoods of Gainesville before heading south again into the African-American neighborhoods in and around Orlando. The new district is 45% African-American (down from 53%) but is still heavily Democratic-- and still very much Jacksonville-dominated, although more population-wise than voter participation-wise. For the best intel on Florida's new districts, the only place to turn is the real expert, Matthew Isbell at MCIMaps.

Oddly, Corrine Brown says she plans to run in FL-10, the Orlando-area district Daniel Webster is fleeing from. That leaves two Tallahassee-based front runners, Tallahassee's popular young mayor, Andrew Gillum, a moderate and former state Senator Al Lawson, a right-wing Democrat, with lots in common with the GOP, who announced yesterday. (State Rep. Mia Jones and ex-state Rep Tony Hill are telling their supporters that if Corrine makes it official that she's running in Orlando, they'll run in FL-05.)

Currently, Tallahassee is part of FL-02 and is represented by the state's most right-wing Democrat, Gwen Graham, who may be even worse than Lawson, although that's debatable. Lawson represented the area from 1982 to 2010 as a state Rep and then a state Senator and was, briefly, the Senate minority leader. In 2010 another very right-wing Dem, Blue Dog Rep. Allen Boyd was defeated for reelection by a Republican gravedigger or embalmer from the Tea Party, Steve Southerland. Two years later Southerland was challenged by Lawson, who he beat 175,856 (52.7%) to 157,634 (47.2%), similar to the Romney victory in the district over Obama on the same day.

In 2014 Lawson again made noises about running but got scared off by the well-financed Graham, daughter of Governor and Senator Bob Graham. Southerland's big mistake came when he voted for a Republican plan to cut food stamps, angering Democrats and rural/farm Republicans. Graham beat him in the R+6 district, 126,096 (50.5%) to 123,262 (49.3%) and since then has often voted exactly how Southerland would have voted. She isn't just the most conservative Democrat in the Florida delegation, she's the most conservative Democrat in the entire Congress. Her goal is to be the next Republican-lite Democrat to be beaten by a real Republican for governor, although she is currently trying to scare fellow conservative, Patrick Murphy, out of the U.S. Senate race so she can run for Rubio's abandoned seat.

Redistricting leaves her without a congressional district, the eastern portion of the district (part of the new 5th) being way too Democratic for her and the western part of the district being way too Republican even for someone who votes with the GOP as dependably as Graham does.

In his press announcement yesterday, the reactionary Lawson is quoted saying "North Florida needs a strong, progressive voice in Washington to protect those issues important to our families." Odd how people try to adapt popular words to describe themselves regardless how how clearly they do not. People who pay no attention, including, of course, the vast majority of "journalists," just assume Lawson is somehow "progressive" without checking his long, long record in the state legislature, where for example, NARAL rated him a zero. The anti-consumer Florida Chamber of Commerce, on the other hand gave him a 100% rating. His environmental ratings from the Florida League of Conservation Voters was never zero, but never too good either, always between 30% and, once, 78%. His last NRA rating (2012) was 50% and his last rating from the AFL-CIO (2209) was 67% (an improvement from the year before when they gave him a ZERO), neither of which indicates anyone remotely "progressive." And those "progressives" at the Christian Coalition gave him a 71% the last time they rated him (2009), even worse-- in terms of being pro-crackpot-- than conservaDem Darren Soto's 64%.

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