Former Mayor Alvin Brown announced Tuesday he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, marking his official return to politics after a nearly three-year hiatus.

 

Brown, who will challenge U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in this year’s Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District, said in a written statement that he chose to run because the region, state and country can “do better.”

“These challenging times call for each of us to stand up and speak out about the kind of community in which we want to live,” Brown said in his statement. “North Florida deserves a pragmatic, visionary leader who will aggressively champion policies that create good-paying jobs, ensure economic and financial security for all, and improve our overall quality of life.”

Elected as mayor in 2011, Brown became the first African-American to hold the top seat in City Hall. He served one term before losing a bitterly fought campaign in 2015 against Mayor Lenny Curry in what turned into the most expensive mayoral race in Jacksonville’s history.

Former Mayor Alvin Brown announced Tuesday he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, marking his official return to politics after a nearly three-year hiatus.

Brown, who will challenge U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in this year’s Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District, said in a written statement that he chose to run because the region, state and country can “do better.”

“These challenging times call for each of us to stand up and speak out about the kind of community in which we want to live,” Brown said in his statement. “North Florida deserves a pragmatic, visionary leader who will aggressively champion policies that create good-paying jobs, ensure economic and financial security for all, and improve our overall quality of life.”

Elected as mayor in 2011, Brown became the first African-American to hold the top post in City Hall. He served one term before losing a bitterly fought campaign in 2015 against Mayor Lenny Curry in what turned into the most expensive mayoral race in Jacksonville’s history.

Brown, a former appointee in the Clinton administration, has kept somewhat of a low profile since leaving City Hall. His announcement Tuesday ended months of speculation over whether he’d run against Lawson.

Brown’s candidacy will be a race of redemption not just for his own political career, but also for Jacksonville, which for 24 years saw one of its own, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, hold control of the district. The city’s reign ended in 2016 after Lawson, D-Tallahassee, defeated Brown.

The district’s boundaries, once a narrow slither that zig-zagged south from Jacksonville to Orlando, were redrawn before the 2016 election after a judge ruled that it violated the Florida constitution’s Fair Districts amendment against gerrymandering.

The newly drawn district, like the old one, includes a large swath of North and West Jacksonville. However, the boundaries now run 200 miles west across North Florida through Tallahassee.

Lawson, a former state senator and lobbyist, won election by capitalizing on his familiarity in the western part of the district as well as a weakened Brown, who faced both an indictment on 22 crimes and a second candidate from Jacksonville who siphoned away the local votes she needed for a victory.

Brown will need to have a strong showing in Jacksonville and prevent Lawson from running up the score to the west, said Matt Corrigan, a political science professor at the University of North Florida.

Executing that type of campaign will require money, and Corrigan said that fundraising could prove difficult with Democratic donors sights set on defeating Republicans, not other Democrats, in the mid-term elections.

“It’s always a challenge taking on an incumbent,” Corrigan said. “I think the fundraising will tell us if his campaign is going to get off to a strong start.”

At the end of 2017, Lawson had $100,000 in his campaign chest.

While Lawson and Brown are Democrats, they both are considered to be centrists and have said they believe in fostering bipartisanship.

Brown’s record as mayor was generally considered to be more conservative than liberal. He avoided divisive partisan issues, fighting against tax increases supported by the GOP-controlled City Council and shied away from supporting legislation that would prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender people.

Instead, he focused on job creation, economic development, and reducing the city’s budget-crippling pension debt.

Brown, 56, lives in Arlington with his wife and two sons.

Christopher Hong: (904) 359-4272

Brown, a former appointee in the Clinton administration, has kept somewhat of a low profile since leaving City Hall. His announcement on Tuesday ended months of speculation over whether he’d run against Lawson.

Brown’s candidacy will be a race of redemption not just for his own political career, but also for Jacksonville, which for 24 years saw one of its own, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, hold control of the district. The city’s reign ended in 2016 after Lawson, D-Tallahassee, defeated Brown.

The district’s boundaries, once a narrow slither that zig-zagged south from Jacksonville to Orlando, were redrawn before the 2016 election after a judge ruled that it violated the Florida constitution’s Fair Districts amendment against gerrymandering.

The newly drawn district, like the old one, includes a large swath of North and West Jacksonville. However, the boundaries now run 200 miles west across North Florida through Tallahassee.

Lawson, a former state Senator and lobbyist, won election by capitalizing on his familiarity in the western part of the district as well as a weakened Corrine Brown, who faced both an indictment on 22 crimes and a second candidate from Jacksonville who siphoned away the local votes she needed for a victory.

Brown will need to have a strong showing in Jacksonville and prevent Lawson from running up the score to the west, said Matt Corrigan, a political science professor at the University of North Florida.

Executing that type of campaign will require money, and Corrigan said that fundraising could prove difficult Democratic donors set their sights set on defeating Republicans, not other Democrats, in the mid-term elections.

“It’s always a challenge taking on an incumbent,” Corrigan said. “I think the fundraising will tell us if his campaign is going to get off to a strong start.”

At the end of 2017, Lawson had $100,000 in his campaign warchest.

While Lawson and Brown are democrats, they both are considered to be centrists and have said they believe in fostering bipartisanship.

Brown’s record as mayor was generally considered to be more conservative than liberal. He avoided divisive partisan issues, fighting against tax increases supported by the GOP-controlled City Council and shied away from supporting legislation that would prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender people.

Instead, he focused on job creation, economic development, and reducing the city’s budget-crippling pension debt.

Brown ,56, lives in Arlington with his wife and two sons.