fightin' words

Identity CRISIS

What do Duval Democratic primaries mean?

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If you're a Democrat in Duval County, odds are good that Aug. 28 is as real an election day for you as Nov. 6 will be.

After all, you will very possibly be voting in a primary election.

And if you're not planning to vote in a primary election, you might rethink that.

There are legitimate choices all over that August ballot: the U.S. House race between Alvin Brown and incumbent Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson; the State Senate battle between Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown and incumbent Audrey Gibson; and, rather unexpectedly, the State House clash between Roshanda Jackson, a former Kim Daniels district secretary, and incumbent Tracie Davis.

Why is there so much action? Answer seems simple to some insiders.

The theory: This is all natural, even expected, an attempt to fill the void left by Corrine Brown exiting the scene, her former machine now disassembled.

Let's break down the campaigns, as much as we can nearly six months from primary day.

Brown vs. Lawson

This one really should be in Jurassic Park rather than Jacksonville west to Tallahassee, since it's a clash between two DINOs.

Alvin Brown cleaved to Rick Scott during his time in office, a dangerous game even for Republicans, never mind Democrats swept into office because Peter Rummell and crew couldn't abide Mike Hogan.

And Al Lawson? The only Congressional Dem from Florida to take NRA money. The only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to applaud Donald Trump during the State of the Union.

So far, a version of recency bias has framed the narrative here; people seem to forget Alvin Brown's refusal to embrace his party identification as mayor; the campaign thus far has been one of Brown serving up oppo reinforcing Lawson's DINO-ness, and Lawson's team failing to do much of anything to counter it.

Brown, fortunately enough for him, has tailwinds. The ballot's other two Democratic primary races should juice turnout from the Duval side of the district, which will need to turn out strong for him if he hopes to overcome Lawson's advantage out west and whatever drag spoiler candidate Rontel Batie has on the Anybody But Lawson vote.

Brown vs. Gibson

So Reggie Brown is in the race, finally.

He filed and, at this point, he still can hang out on the City Council through June-he has to bounce shortly before the qualifying deadline, though.

We covered the parameters of this race before: Brown's case is that Gibson isn't bringing appropriations home and that, despite the scuttlebutt from those in Gibson's orbit, he is NOT, in NO WAY, Mayor Lenny Curry's candidate. And he is NOT running as some sort of backhanded revenge for Gibson coming out against the pension tax in 2016.

This still feels like a suicide mission for Brown; Gibson, even as some insiders grouse that she's lost a step, is nonetheless teed up to lead the Senate Democrats after November's elections.

Campaign finance reports will be of major interest going forward in this race. Gibson, who is a pragmatist in the Senate, will get her share of institutional money, and has more than $100K banked. Brown has never been a major fundraiser, and it remains to be seen if he will be here, or if he'll rely on GOP-funded uncoordinated committees to send out hit pieces against Gibson.

Davis vs. Jackson

Rep. Davis, a Gibson ally, likewise faces a challenge-and it's from an ex-aide of Kim Daniels'.

Roshanda Jackson got into the race last month, saying that she wanted a "peaceful" campaign, and she didn't intend to run against Davis so much as run for the seat.

Does Tracie Davis, who has seen a lot as Deputy Supervisor of Elections, as candidate for the State House against wounded incumbent Reggie Fullwood, and as a state rep, buy that?

Seriously doubtful.

Jackson will be an interesting opponent for Davis, who takes fairly traditional Democratic positions. It's tough to figure out why Jackson thinks Davis should be out of office.

Some think Kim Daniels put her up to it.

Kim Daniels vs. ???:

There are  rumors, meanwhile, that someone may run against Daniels.

And why not? In just last year alone, Daniels got headlines for praying for Donald Trump, for ensuring that the Florida motto ("In God We Trust") is displayed in Florida classrooms, for asserting that "prophets" saw Hurricane Irma coming, and for her "religious freedom in public schools" bill.

Good stuff there! Not sure how it jibes with the Democratic agenda, though.

People want someone to run against Daniels, but can she be defeated in her home district?

Open question. But they all are, this far out.

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