After 12 terms in Congress, Corrine Brown defeated

Redrawn district, federal indictment challenged re-election bid

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown lost her bid for re-election Tuesday, bringing a 24-year congressional career to an end amid a federal indictment and changes to the longtime boundaries of her district.

Al Lawson, a former state senator from Tallahassee, won 48 percent of the vote to defeat Brown, who drew 39 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for a district that now stretches from Downtown Jacksonville west along the Florida-Georgia border to Gadsden County.

"I'm not going to Washington looking for a job. I'm going to Washington to make a difference," Lawson told supporters.. "We're going to be very respectable of those people in Duval. They're not going to lose any ground. We have the ability to go to Washington and help break the gridlock. We have the ability to work across the aisles and help them."

Lawson won six of the eight counties in the district, losing only Brown's longtime power base of Duval County -- where she won by almost 16,500 votes -- and a small piece of Columbia County. He defeated Brown by more than 7,100 votes. A third Democrat, LaShonda Holloway, also vying for Brown's seat ended the night with 13 percent of the vote.

Al Lawson

Lawson will face Republican Glo Smith in the November general election.

Brown said she was proud that she had served her constituents well during her 24 years in Congress, and 10 years before that in the Florida House of Representatives. 

"It's been an honor serving the people, and they're going to have a new representative," Brown said. "I don't feel bad tonight because I know I've done the best I could."

Brown's loss was a stunning end to a lengthy political career that once seemed unassailable. Over more than two decades, she represented her district in a loud and sometimes unpredictable manner, once taking to the House floor in an orange and blue gown to celebrate a national championship by the Florida Gators football team.

Immediately after her concession speech Tuesday night, Brown began dancing with her bodyguard to, "My Girl." Her supporters joined in and continued to applaud her -- the end of an era in Jacksonville and seemingly a nod to her accomplishments.

Brown sensed danger in 2010, when Florida voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution aimed at banning political gerrymandering. Brown's meandering district, which then ran from Jacksonville in the north to Orlando in the south, was often highlighted as a prime example of gerrymandering.

She fought the amendment in federal court and lost and later waged an unsuccessful legal fight against a court-ordered redistricting plan that created the current east-west configuration. Brown insisted that an African-American Democrat could not win the seat, despite the fact that President Barack Obama won it by more than 28 points in 2012. 

Brown's path to re-election became more daunting when federal prosecutors in July announced a 22-count indictment saying the congresswoman and others used the "One Door for Education" charity as a $800,000 slush fund. Brown denied those allegations and accused the prosecutors of timing the charges to help defeat her. She also lashed out at the media for focusing on the accusations.

"You all need to do your job," she said during a debate televised on News4Jax. "You should not just let someone give you a slip of paper and say, 'This is the case,' and you don't do your fact checks. My work speaks for itself."

Brown's trial on the federal corruption charges was delayed until at least November after a third set of attorneys withdrew from the case last week.

 

WJXT 2016, News Service of Florida