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GOP Alarm Bells Over Democrat Alvin Brown’s Historic Victory in Conservative Jacksonville

| May 20, 2011

Alvin Brown is the first Democrat elected mayor in Jacksonville in 20 years, and the first-ever black mayor.

The first African-American mayor in the history of Jacksonville and the first Democrat to be elected to the city’s top post in two decades comes into office raising questions about whether his win could portend tougher times for Republicans in what has been a staunchly conservative county.

In a narrow and ultimately surprising race for mayor of the state’s geographically largest city, Democrat Alvin Brown defeated Republican opponent Mike Hogan in the second round of elections Tuesday. The race had been closely followed because of the potential that Brown could win the office in what is often a cornerstone for GOP statewide campaigns.

In a press conference in Jacksonville on Thursday morning, Brown sought to play down the political significance of his victory.

“This win isn’t about party,” he said. “This victory was about Jacksonville and its future. My campaign was nonpartisan. My administration will be bipartisan.”

But with a presidential election in little more than a year, the first Democratic win in Jacksonville in 20 years quickly stirred questions about whether the reliably red county might be taking on a more purple hue. Brown’s victory raises concerns because Duval County was critical to Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 victory — the county accounted for almost a quarter of his margin of victory against then-CFO Alex Sink.

Local experts, however, urged caution Thursday, saying Brown’s victory may not portend a fundamental electoral shift.

“I don’t think we’re sort of heading for a new Democratic dominance of Duval County,” said Matthew Corrigan, a political-science professor at the University of North Florida.

While the contest could signal some trouble for Scott, there were unique threads running through the campaign for mayor. Hogan’s campaign, and the candidate himself, had their share of flaws. In one infamous episode, Hogan joked that he wouldn’t bomb an abortion clinic, “but it may cross my mind,” he’s quoted in an account of the event in the Florida Times-Union.

Hogan also pushed back against efforts to revitalize downtown development, scaring some business supporters that often back Republicans into the camp of Brown, a relatively conservative Democrat, and gave the underdog’s campaign access to more fundraising.

“Not only did it hurt him with votes, but it hurt him with money,” said Jake Godbold, Democratic mayor of the city in the 1980s who tepidly backed Hogan in the second round of voting.

The fundraising helped Brown piece together a coalition that included Democrats, independents and some among the Republican-friendly business community.

“They felt that they could work with Mayor-elect Brown and he understood their concerns,” said Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, a supporter.

While voting was up in the county’s heavily black districts, Brown also did well in somewhat diverse but largely white areas that had voted for some Republicans eliminated in the first round, said Mario Piscatella, a local political consultant. In three of those districts, Brown’s share went from 11 percent in the first round to 40 percent in the second.

Some observers see overtones for the coming presidential election in the results of the voting. Rep. Mike Weinstein called the race “a wake-up call for both sides,” indicating that future races in Duval could be financially and logistically hard-fought. He said national parties began paying more attention to the race after the first round of voting narrowed the field down to Hogan and Brown.

“It became a Republican-Democrat stepping-off point for 2012,” said Weinstein, R-Jacksonville. “It became a very different election in the last six weeks.”
Piscatella said Brown’s victory signaled that Democrats can do better in Duval and that Obama might be able to fare as well as he did in 2008, a critical piece of the formula for winning Florida’s trove of electoral votes.

“At the very least, he can get the same 48, 49 percent he got last time, and that probably decides the statewide election,” Piscatella said.

Others are more skeptical.

“Obama will be on his own,” Godbold said. “This is a very conservative town.”

But Corrigan said state politics might have shaped the race in some ways, as state Republicans’ budget plans to slice education spending helped Brown’s decision to push education as an issue in the campaign.

“Rick Scott may have hurt Hogan in this race,” Corrigan said. ” … I think there’s more of a connection for the governor-mayor race than there is for the presidential-mayor race.”

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “GOP Alarm Bells Over Democrat Alvin Brown’s Historic Victory in Conservative Jacksonville”

  1. Liana G says:

    “When Barack Obama was pondering a run for the presidency Michelle asked him what he thought he could accomplish. He replied,“The day I take the oath of office, the world will look at us differently. . .But for all the ways black America has felt better about itself and looked better to others, it has not actually fared better. In fact, it has been doing worse. The economic gap between black and white has grown since Obama took power. Under his tenure black unemployment, poverty and foreclosures are at their highest levels for at least a decade.

    Millions of black kids may well aspire to the presidency now that a black man is in the White House. But such a trajectory is less likely for them now than it was under Bush. Herein lies what is at best a paradox and at worst a contradiction within Obama’s core base of support. The very group most likely to support him—black Americans—is the same group that is doing worse under him.”

    Watch out Jacksonville – don’t celebrate too fast, a blue dog President in disguise, and a openly blue dog Mayor – of course Obama will win in 2012. Continue to expect more such results elsewhere. What better cover for the powers that be to push their agenda through! Hope, Change and Progress indeed!!!!

  2. rickg says:

    A very interesting election. Brown is one of those rare breeds.. a candidate with an African American constituency but a blue dog nonetheless. The best thing coming out of here is that Rick Scott and his so called business policies may have taken a shot to the solar plexus.

  3. NortonSmitty says:

    Good point. But the trajectory for the common folks under Obama is the exact same downward parabolic spiral that nosedived during the Bush regime. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Hope and change my ass. Pick up a pitchfork if you see the need for change. And be prepared to wave it at a brace of M-16s and the futuristic “Crowd Control” devices being tested all over the world now by our brave troops. Like the LRAD (Long Range Accoustical Device) they used on students and spectators that weren’t even protesting the Global Oligarchy at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009. Coming soon to a protest near you.

    Remember this next time you hear one of our pompous ass leaders bray about how we won’t tolerate these tinhorn ‘furren Democracies preventing their citizens from exercising their God-given right to peaceful protest. Once more, Pgh, PA in 2009. If you can watch the whole thing without breaking something, vomiting, or just crying, your a better man than I am.

  4. NortonSmitty says:

    Sorry, here’s the other link:

  5. William says:

    Well, therein lies the rub, doesn’t it. I’ve been saying for a long time that Obama is only the manager of McDonald’s, a tool for the richfilth. Mainstream Republicans shouldn’t have a problem with him, as he’s one of them, shrub’s third term if you will. For the sake of brevity, I shall dispense with the inumeration of how he’s actually worse. The unfortunate truth is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, resulting in “people” like $now$nooki and her batshit crazy ilk getting an outsized voice (assuming the sound of fingernails on a blackboard can be construed as “voice”). Said “voice”, with the aid of a complicit, owned media, disseminates lies, obfuscations, straw men, and all other varieties of red meat designed to drown out the voices of reason in order to divert attention from the richfilth agenda: the uninterrupted upward flow of wealth. That is the sad reality in our country today. The public is spoon fed a witches brew of talking points and wedge issues, hatched in board rooms, refined in focus groups, then disseminated with the goal of shaping public opinion in such a way that nobody notices the thieves who are stealing us blind.

    Matt Taibbi wrote an excellent article for Rolling Stone titled “The People vs Goldman Sachs” which, by all rights, should be on the front page of every newspaper and the lead story for the nightly news, but that’s not gonna happen as it would expose the richfilth’s raping and pillaging. They MUST keep attention diverted, lest we stop bickering amongst ourselves and come after them with pitchforks, tar, and feathers.

    There may be some who are inclined to think justice will somehow be served. WRONG! Carl Levin’s subcommittee may have laid out the evidence, but if you’re waiting for the DOJ to pick this up and run with it you might just be a victim of unrealistic expectations. Forgive my skepticism, but to date Holder’s DOJ has dropped more probes than a proctologist with Parkinson’s. The game is all about the unimpeded upward flow of wealth while simultaneously throwing the plebes red herrings like taxation, deficit spending, social/moral issues, and those evil fucking union “thugs”. George Carlin once said that if you have selfish, ignorant people, you’ll get selfish, ignorant poiliticians, and I believe those ends are being achieved by the deliberate, institutionalized dumbing down of the public. The (R) and (D) have no relevance in a system that is based on two sides of the same coin, bad or worse, paper or plastic, Coke or Pepsi.

    So. DINO or RINO? Hardly matters when the game is fixed.

  6. William says:

    Life imitating art, or art imitating life? You decide.

    For your viewing pleasure:

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Looks like the people found out the hard way what they got in the last 11 years every time they vote for GOP candidates; loose their jobs, their homes, their freedom, their rights for being minorities, their pensions, their unions, their health, their “small” businesses, their 401K’s invested, their unions and on top of it are used as scapegoats blamed for and cover up the stealing of the Wall Street crooks and subsidize corporations and multinationals that are robbing our non renewable fuel reserves while contaminating our environment with total impunity and gouging us at the pump.
    Not that I am a blinded Democrat, but have no other choice than support the less evil of the two so far.
    How come ever, any of our teachers, firemen, law enforcement, firefighters, retirees, elderly, Hispanics unionized and non unionized workers and anyone in our middle class, could vote for a GOP candidate in 2012, after what we are enduring from them? Thank you for the great news to Flaglerlive! One at the time and will winn. Now lets work for a recall inclusion amendment, in our Florida constitution.

  8. Jojo says:

    Well said palmcoaster, sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask, are we going backwards. I mean, the jobs and the salary they pay. The Florida Republican dominated legislature just voted down a 5th consecutive year of no raises. They expect you to live and feed a family on $20,000 per year. I just don’t understand what’s going on in this country anymore, I really don’t. Take teachers, we pay them and treat them like shit. We have a corrupt Governor in office (High Crimes and misdemeanors) and a Republican dominated legislature that won’t enact a recall amendment be placed on a referendum to the 2012 election. Wait a minute, don’t legislators work for the majority? What are they afraid of? Rick Scott might get recalled?

  9. palmcoaster says:

    The Republican legislators do not want to enact a recall amendment in our constitution? Well, next time they will be up for re-election “lets do a Jacksonville on them”. Vote them out!
    Maybe then these tea baggers puppets will get the message.

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