Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 21, 2014

Florida: James Clyburn, Corrine Brown to Fundraise for Al Lawson

Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) and Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.) will appear at a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Al Lawson today. Brown’s office confirmed to Roll Call that the fundraiser is happening at noon at the National Democratic Club.

Lawson is running for the Democratic nomination in the Florida’s Tallahassee-anchored 2nd district against state Rep. Leonard Bembry, who has the endorsement of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog PAC.

Bembry’s campaign was listed as an “emerging race” by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Lawson, who entered the race after the DCCC’s announcement, is not on that list.

Lawson, like Clyburn and Brown, is African-American. Bembry is white.

In an interview with Roll Call on Wednesday, Lawson was personable, funny and engaging. He had a folksy charm that underscores his rural roots — he was born in a tiny Panhandle town not far from the Georgia border.

A former semi-professional basketball player (he’s 6’7″), Lawson served in both the Florida House and state Senate for many years until he was prevented from running for re-election by term limits. In 2010, he challenged then-Rep. Allen Boyd (D) but lost by 3 points. Boyd went on to lose the general election to now-Rep. Steve Southerland (R).

Bembry’s campaign struck back.

“I’m surprised that anyone could support Al Lawson given the fact that when he was in the state legislature he voted for every single budget that Florida Republicans offered, many of which cut state education funding, led to teacher layoffs and cut programs to benefit seniors,” Bembry Communications Director Ralph Mason said in a statement. “We are proud of the support we’ve received from over a dozen members of Congress and endorsements from organized labor.”

The winner of the Democratic primary will take on Southerland in November.

Roll Call rates the race, which is in a district that has a 71 percent white voting age population, as Leans Republican.

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