TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who was one of the first blacks elected to Congress from Florida since reconstruction, lost her battle Tuesday to remain in office.
Dealing with a criminal indictment and a revamped district that included thousands of new voters, Brown was defeated in the Democratic primary by former State Sen. Al Lawson from Tallahassee.
Lawson captured nearly 48 percent of the vote in the three-way primary and ended Brown’s 24-year-long career in Congress. He will face Republican Glo Smith in November, but the district is solidly Democratic.
Brown, 69, was known by the motto “Corrine Delivers,” a testament of her ability during her time in office to bring federal dollars back to her district.
But in early July, Brown and her chief of staff pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud charges and other federal offenses that alleged she participated in a scheme to use a phony charity as a personal slush fund. She contended that the investigation is a “witch hunt” and has chastised the media for focusing on it.
Brown was also trying to remain in office despite a dramatically different district. Brown’s district for years had stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando and included various minority neighborhoods in between. But after a lengthy legal battle, the Florida Supreme Court late last year approved new congressional districts that shifted her district westward from Duval County all the way to Gadsden County west of the state capital.
Brown tried to get a federal court to throw out the revamped district, but after losing her legal battle she filed for re-election.
Lawson, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress four years ago, spent nearly 30 years in the Florida Legislature where he represented many of the counties around Tallahassee. Lawson, 67, has been an insurance agent and a lobbyist and had a fleeting career as a professional basketball player.
During his campaign against Brown, he said that she should have resigned following her indictment and pointed out that he had been scandal-free during his political career. He emphasized economic development and a need to reduce student debt and was critical of Brown’s decision to participate in a sit-in protesting the House Republicans handling of gun legislation.
“I promise be a leader District 5 can trust and to work hard to deliver for the people of North Florida,” Lawson said in a statement following his victory.