Alfred James Lawson Jr. (born September 23, 1948),[1] is an American politician who is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 5th congressional district, serving since 2017. The district stretches across most of the border with Georgia, including most of the majority-black areas between Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

A Democrat, Lawson served in the Florida Legislature for 28 years. From 1982 to 2000, he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives. From 2000 to 2010, Lawson was a member of the Florida Senate (representing the 6th district), where he was elected to serve as the Democratic Leader and eventually rose to the rank of “Dean of the Senate” prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. After two failed campaigns for Congress, Lawson defeated incumbent Corrine Brown in the Democratic primary in 2016 and won the general election, finally winning a seat in the House.

Early life and education

Lawson as a state representative, 1984

Lawson as a state senator, 2006

Lawson was born in Midway, Florida, and attended Havana Northside High School where he was a standout athlete in basketball and track. He went on to become a basketball star at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. After a brief stint as a professional basketball player with the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks,[2] Lawson returned to Tallahassee where he landed a job at Florida State University as an assistant basketball coach where he helped take the Seminoles to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Lawson also earned his Master of Public Administration from Florida State University.

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2010

Lawson ran for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 2nd congressional district in 2010, challenging seven-term incumbent Allen Boyd.[3] Lawson narrowly lost to Boyd in the Democratic primary,[4] and Boyd lost to Republican newcomer Steve Southerland in the general election by more than 12 percentage points.[5][6]

2012

Lawson ran again for the seat in 2012, and won the Democratic nomination against Blue Dog-endorsed state Rep. Leonard Bembry. He lost to incumbent Republican nominee Steve Southerland in the general election by less than 6 points.[7]

2016

A lawsuit challenging the Florida congressional district map radically changed the 5th district. For the past quarter century, the district and its predecessors had covered most of the majority-black precincts from Jacksonville to Orlando. The new map, however, changed the district to an east–west configuration stretching across all or part of eight counties from Tallahassee to downtown Jacksonville. The redrawn district included Lawson’s home in Tallahassee, and Lawson announced he would run for the 5th on December 15, 2015, setting up a battle against Corrine Brown, the only congresswoman the district had known since its creation in 1993.[8]

On paper, the district’s demographics appeared to be against Lawson. While the district now included most of Tallahassee, the capital and its suburbs only accounted for 32 percent of the district’s population, while the Jacksonville area accounted for 61 percent.[9]
However, his bid received a significant boost in July 2016, when Brown was indicted on federal corruption charges.[10] He defeated Brown in the Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—on August 30, 2016. He then defeated Republican Glo Smith in the general election on November 8 with 64% of the vote.[11]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Gun law

Following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Lawson expressed frustration with the lack of action on gun regulation and placed blame on lobbying organizations, saying “the stranglehold of the gun lobby has gone on long enough”.[14]
Lawson supports restriction on assault weapons.[15]
In 2017, Lawson voted no on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would require all states to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states.[16][17] Additionally, those with concealed carry permits would be permitted to carry concealed weapons in school zones.[18]
Lawson also voted no on the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which would have allowed veterans who are considered “mentally incompetent” to purchase ammunition and firearms unless declared a danger by a judge.[16][19]

Yemeni civil war

Al Lawson was one of five house Democrats who voted for the US to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia and to support the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[20] This vote was part a vote series that allowed debate and votes on the Farm Bill in 2018, which he called a necessary step to provide assistance to farmers in his largely agricultural district.

See also

References

  1. ^ Florida, State Library and Archives of. “U.S. Congressional candidate Al Lawson, at right, speaking with Bob Fulford at a picnic of the Democratic Club of North Florida in Tallahassee, Florida”. Florida Memory.
  2. ^ Gangitano, Alex (22 March 2017). “Florida Democrat talks about his American Basketball Association career”. Roll Call. CQ Roll Call. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  3. ^ Kam, Dara (2009-02-05). “Palm Beach Post Blogs: Area news, sports, entertainment, business & more”. The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
  4. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (2010-08-25). “Rep. Allen Boyd holds on in Florida”. Politico. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  5. ^ Helgoth, Ali (2010-11-03). “Southerland defeats Boyd”. The News Herald. Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  6. ^ “2010 General Election Results”. Florida Division of Elections. 2010-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  7. ^ “November 6, 2012 General Election, Official Results”. Florida Division of Elections. 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
  8. ^ Caputo, Marc (December 15, 2015). “Lawson announces run for Congress”. Politico.
  9. ^ “Daily Kos Elections congressional district redistribution analysis (post-2010 census)”. Google Docs.
  10. ^ Kelly, Nora (July 8, 2016). “Representative Corrine Brown Indicted on Federal Charges”. The Atlantic.
  11. ^ Gardner, Lynnsey; Moyer, Crystal (August 30, 2016). “After 12 terms in Congress, Corrine Brown defeated”. WJXT. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  12. ^ “Membership”. Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  13. ^ “Members”. New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  14. ^ Leary, Alex (15 February 2018). “Florida Democrats say school massacre a call for gun control”. Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay, Florida. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  15. ^ Patterson, Steve (7 November 2016). “Al Lawson wins North Florida seat in Congress, replacing U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown”. Jacksonville.com. Jacksonville, Florida. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  16. ^ a b “Al Lawson, Jr.’s Voting Records on Issue”. ISPY. Vote Smart. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  17. ^ Mosendz, Polly (2017-11-29). “Get Ready for Concealed Guns in All 50 States”. Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  18. ^ Kruzel, John (2017-12-07). “Concealed carry bill lets states regulate guns in schools”. Politifact. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  19. ^ Caplan, Andrew (21 February 2018). “Your leaders: 4-1 against stricter gun laws”. The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  20. ^ Fuller, Matt; Ahmed, Akbar Shahid. “5 Democrats Bail Out Paul Ryan And Protect Saudi Arabia”. Huffington Post.

External links

Florida House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 9th district

1982–1992
Succeeded by

Hurley W. Rudd
Preceded by

Robert Trammell
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 8th district

1992–2000
Succeeded by

Florida Senate
Preceded by

Member of the Florida Senate
from the 3rd district

2000–2002
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of the Florida Senate
from the 6th district

2002–2010
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Minority Leader of the Florida Senate
2008–2010
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida’s 5th congressional district

2017–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
274th
Succeeded by