One of the neat things about being Rep. Corrine Brown is that since her congressional district stretches through multiple areas of North and Central Florida, she is uniquely positioned to shape the political discourse in places like Orlando, Gainesville and, of course, Jacksonville. But one way she’s done that over the years, Corrine’s Quick Picks, has come under fire in the run-up to the Jacksonville unitary election.
For the uninitiated, Corrine’s Quick Picks is a voter-information document in which the congresswoman provides a mock ballot, with her choices bubbled in. “How you vote is a personal decision but after researching the Candidates, Judges, and Proposed Constitutional Amendments, Corrine Brown wants you to know where she stands,” her landing page explains.
Last week, at a press conference at the Duval County Supervisor of Elections office, Brown defended the Quick Picks in her customary direct manner. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” she said. “People ask me how I’m voting. I’m so excited that it’s a discussion in the community. I’ve printed 50,000 of them. It’s like the dog track: a cheat sheet.”
Brown certainly has the right to endorse, just as the Jax Chamber and myriad unions do. However, some City Council candidates who were not selected, such as at-large Group 3 hopeful Mincy Pollock, have pointed to the Quick Picks as an inherently corrupt process.
“Growing up in Jacksonville, I’ve always looked up to leaders in the black community, and hoped I would one day be on Corrine’s Quick Picks when the time came,” Pollock says. “When I decided to run, I reached out to a number of leaders in the community, and most of them responded with the question, ‘How much money have you raised?'”
There are rumors that the Quick Picks are, in some cases, “pay to play,” though no one is willing to confirm that on the record. There’s still time for that whistle to be blown, however.
The most stalwart voice denouncing the Quick Picks, that of outgoing Councilwoman E. Denise Lee, has nothing to fear from Corrine — and there is vast evidence that the two flat-out don’t like each other. But even Lee, when decrying the “slips of paper” that tell people how to vote, doesn’t call Corrine out by name on live microphones.
Joseph Willis, running in District 10, released a video on Facebook about how Quick Picks work on the Northside, discussing “Corrine’s Quick Picks … the term they use for the lottery.”
“I know a lot of people think that because a politician has a big name, that they do everything on the up-and-up and ethical,” said Willis. But in the case of the Quick Picks, “it’s not like that. You know how people are, sometimes they’re not ethical, cheaters, liars, whatever they may be.”
Willis, whose campaign website is whatyoutalkingaboutwillis.com, contends that the Quick Picks are released on the “Northside only,” targeting the “uneducated voter,” and that they’re ideologically enforced by “Corrine Brown’s team that stands at the entrance of the location and pass out Quick Picks … like they’re part of the voting process or something. It’s deceiving … almost cheating, if you ask me.”
Of course, Willis wasn’t Congresswoman Brown’s Quick Pick. That honor went to incumbent Reggie Brown, who recently made news for being the person that fellow incumbent and Quick Pick Demon Hunter Kim Daniels called after a bit of a tiff with another candidate, a former minister at her Spoken Word Ministries, District 7 hopeful Sirretta Williams. Daniels, in the midst of an ugly divorce, is exceedingly fortunate to have a stalwart ally in Councilman Brown, who offers counsel when needed. Perhaps membership in the Quick Picks club has its privileges?
It’s absolutely legitimate for Brown to endorse whomever she wants. The real question to me is, why was this process, until the current campaign, virtually unknown outside the Northside of Jacksonville? Perhaps our local political media, so dutiful when it comes to reporting fundraising reports and rewriting press releases, simply decided it wasn’t interested in reporting how electoral politics in a large part of the city is conducted. Wouldn’t be the first time; won’t be the last.