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Lawson Running for Brown’s Congressional Seat

Lawson Running for Brown’s Congressional Seat

With a newly drawn district expected to stretch across a large part of North Florida, longtime former state lawmaker Al Lawson says he intends to take a third run at Congress.

Lawson’s announcement Tuesday could help spur others, including incumbent U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, to make decisions regarding their own political futures.

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Alfred Lawson, Jr.
Alfred Lawson, Jr.

Lawson, a Democratic fixture in the Legislature for nearly three decades, said in a release that he plans to file for the newly redrawn Congressional District 5 seat after the New Year.

“North Florida needs a strong, progressive voice in Washington to protect those issues important to our families,” Lawson, 67, said in the release.

Lawson’s announcement follows a Florida Supreme Court decision early this month that set new congressional lines. Under the new map, Democratic-leaning District 5 would run from Jacksonville west to Gadsden County, cutting across Tallahassee.

Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville who has been in Congress since 1993, is highly critical of the new lines and has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that changes to her current district — which goes from Jacksonville to Orlando — would prevent African-American voters from electing a candidate of their choice. Brown’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Brown’s district was one of the key issues in a years-long legal battle about whether the existing congressional map violated the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” standards approved by voters in 2010.

The Orlando Sentinel has reported that Brown is considering a run for a district in Orlando. Her office hasn’t acknowledged or denied the report.

Among the other potential candidates in the revamped Congressional District 5 is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Kevin Cate, a spokesman for Gillum, said Tuesday that Lawson’s decision doesn’t impact Gillum’s thought process in determining whether to run.

Lawson served in the Florida House from 1982 until joining the Senate in 2000, where he spent 10 years. In 2010, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress, receiving 48.5 percent of the Democratic primary vote against then-incumbent Allen Boyd.

Two years later, after easily winning a four-way primary, Lawson received 47.2 percent of the vote in failing to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, who had defeated Boyd in the 2010 general election.

Lawson last year served on the Florida State University presidential search committee, which recommended then-Sen. John Thrasher to be school’s next president. Lawson has also made his own attempt to become president at Florida A&M University. Lawson has received degrees from both schools.

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Jim Turner / News Service of Florida

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