A lot of people got it wrong: me among them. Jacksonville elects its first Democratic Mayor in 20 years and first African-American Mayor in its consolidated history. They say even a clock that doesn’t run is right twice a day. Well, here comes Alvin Brown with a baseball bat and just smashes the clock right off the wall. No longer is any political postulate left to certainly; I awoke last Wednesday in a strange new landscape in a town still calling itself Jacksonville.
Disbelief is large among Republicans. Not just in losing this race, but in how it was lost. Word around town: responsibility lies with those pesky Audrey Moran Republicans who jumped ship and voted for Alvin. You know the type — first in a game of Trivial Pursuit to win a wedge for “arts and entertainment.” I think it’s really far worse for Republicans, and wagging a finger at seditious “Audrey” Republicans is just a way to ease the pain and fear of what really happened: “They” turned out.
Voter registrations show about 35,000 more Democrats than Republicans here in Duval County. It’s been that way for a long time. But, team red has always turned out bucket loads more voters and muscled Democrats away from the trough come supper time. This time, somebody did the math and threw in everything, including the kitchen sink, to get Democrats to the polls — and they did. Looking at the precinct maps for Duval County, highest turnouts were in the Democratic dominated districts. Brown’s “organizing” effort boasted of knocking on 80,000 doors. Insiders say Hogan was asleep at the wheel. Republicans may find “asleep at the wheel” a more optimistic self-criticism than the reality of a motivated political majority that just became self-aware. Add to it, the worry they may keep coming back.
Billie Tucker, leader of the local Tea Party circulated an email a few weeks back referring to Organizing for America volunteers as “Zombies.” I think Billie just woke-up as the reluctant star in her own screen-play. Nope, you cannot stop them, they just kept coming and coming — knock them down and they just get right back up. Thing is, even Billie’s sci-fi studies are out of date. Unlike the stereotypical Zombies in the 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead,” who amble around like a geriatric crochet team, in the current genre, films like “28 Days Later,” Zombies run! And, yes Billie, they bite.
But on a serious note, everybody wants to talk about how “outsiders” from all corners of America came to Jacksonville tipping the election, how big money business moguls bought the system, how cross over “Audrey” Republicans greased the skids. I think the reality is probably simpler and even more compelling: a former Winn-Dixie meat cutter, a local college instructor, a man who earns a modest $20,000 a year, came off the bench and busted the teeth out of one of the most powerful political machines in the country to become mayor of the 11th largest city government in America. Sometimes when modest people do profound things, that alone is so unusual, it’s the simplicity of it that becomes hard to believe. – Scott Shine
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