Jacksonville Elects First Democratic Mayor in 20 Years: What Does It Mean for Florida Politics?

Categories: Politicks
alvinbrown.jpg
Jacksonville Mayor-elect Alvin Brown
Conservative Republican Mike Hogan was expected to walk away with the Jacksonville Mayoral race. He comes from a family so entrenched in the area, there's several streets that bare the Hogan name. He ran on a campaign promising no new taxes, smaller government, support for small businesses, and solid conservative social values. He held off more moderate Republicans to make it to a runoff. In Florida's most solidly Republican large city, he should have won. Instead, in a political shocker, Democrat Alvin Brown will be Jacksonville's next mayor, making him the city's first African-American mayor and first Democratic mayor since 1991. Was it a weird fluke, or does it have deeper significance for Florida politics?

The City of Jacksonville and Duval County are politically synonymous. While Jacksonville is Florida's largest city, it's only the state's sixth largest county. It's not politically insignificant, and maybe you'd hear more about it if it wasn't considered a Republican stronghold.

Marco Rubio and Rick Scott won there in 2010. John McCain did in 2008. In fact, in many statewide elections it's often the biggest county that a Republican wins. To put it in prospective, even Katherine Harris, Florida's proto-Sarah Palin 2006 Republican senate candidate, won there, and she only won nine counties overall.

So Brown's win, though by a small margin, is certainly a huge upset. The Florida Times-Union points out how he did it. See, Hogan managed to push out a more moderate Republican, Audrey Moran, in the initial election but didn't win big enough to avoid a run-off. That system is slightly different than a primary, but it echoes recent Republican efforts to rally around the most conservative candidate in their recent primaries. See Marco Rubio and Rick Scott (that strategy probably doesn't seem quite as sweet now that Scott is wildly unpopular).

Instead, in the run-off Brown managed to make significant inroads with voters who initially preferred the moderate Moran. He managed to transform his campaign from one that targeted inner-city voters to one that also reached out to suburban voters.

Though Hogan won 2-to-1 in early and absentee voting, Brown also managed to pull off a huge election day surge which helped erase that early advantage.

So what does it mean for Florida politics at large as we head in to 2012? Well, it means that even a county that usually veers right isn't totally against voting for someone with a (D) next to their name, especially when they put in a lot of work on the ground.

It also means that a guy running on a vaguely Tea Party-esque platform of no-new-taxes and small government isn't guaranteed a win. Jacksonville, like most of Florida's cities, is facing economic turmoil and budget disaster. Though, voters didn't turn to the right this time to solve those problems.

Coincidentally, Howard Dean and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz came out today to announce that they feel Florida is "very winnable" for President Obama in 2012.

As for Florida's next big mayoral election, the one right here in Miami-Dade, the message is a bit murkier. Our politics aren't partisan. Though, if the polling holds true and Julio Robaina (who seems to have more support among Republican voters) leads Carlos Gimenez (who has more support amongst Democrats and independents than Robaina, though perhaps no more "liberal" than Robaina) it's still quite possible that Gimenez could pull off the win in a run-off.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.
My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
Sreym44
Sreym44

 Kyle - I guess you must include the Dean/Wasserman quote, but what would we expect them to say?  Those two, in particular, saying "very winnable" translates to me as "in question and not likely".

Matthew Earl
Matthew Earl

It means Miami-Dade has a lot of work to do before it elects its first African-American mayor. smh

Lin
Lin

No Brainer:  Republicons & Tea Partiers in House have guaranteed their own demise: give bigger tax breaks to the rich, cut spending for the poor, and get rid of medicare.  

Guest
Guest

Hogan also had Scott's support. I hope that means Voldemort will be a kiss of death to any campaign.

Iuzzolth
Iuzzolth

Also unlikely for you to take any kind of pro-action in your community other than a blog. 

Sreym44
Sreym44

Gosh Lin.  That sounds like a cut & paste from a "left" mantra bumper sticker you happen to see.  Libs will thrive when they can bypass wanting to be loved and embrace changes that make a difference for the poor and everyone else. 

Iuzzolth
Iuzzolth

Gosh Sreym44, I have repeated this over and over to people such as yourself and will now repeat it to you. Be careful about the "Libs" reference, because there are plenty of "Libs" right now who are deployed overseas being shot at. They sacrifice and risk their lives to serve this country and your freedom regardless of their political beliefs. I wonder if you are capable of doing the same, and I wonder how far your mouth would get you in the military... 

porgie1
porgie1

Repubs ran from tea party endorsed Hogan to Demo Brown. Brown was endorsed by jax reputable bussinessmen. Because of his conservatism. Brown is a conservative democrat. As the article states, thats why Jax elected him. And only why.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Electronics

General

Loading...