JACKSONVILLE, FL—On Sunday, civil rights icon and U.S. Representative John Lewis (GA) endorsed Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. At a get out the vote rally featuring hundreds of local supporters, Lewis drew stark contrast between Brown’s vision for taking Jacksonville forward, with Lenny Curry’s record of limiting voting rights.
“I am honored to be endorsed by public servants who have dedicated their careers to improving the lives of their constituents and of our country,” Brown said. “Our message is that there is no greater right in our democracy than the opportunity to vote. Every time a citizen goes to the poll, it is a declaration of what they want their community to be and represent. I am committed to moving Jacksonville forward by expanding the opportunities of our citizens. This is the only way we can ensure that the progress of the last four years, can continue for another four years as well.”
“Generations of Americans have fought to ensure the right to vote, and we must not take their struggle for granted,” Lewis said. “It is imperative, then, that Jacksonville citizens go to the polls and vote for Mayor Brown. He is a good man who understands that in order to move Jacksonville forward, we have to create opportunity for all of its citizens. Mayor Brown’s opponent, however, fought to limit Florida citizens’ right to vote; and he continues to support policies that would turn back the clock on our progress. To ensure Jacksonville is a 21st century city, go to the voting booth, bring your friends, and re-elect Mayor Alvin Brown.”
Under Mayor Brown’s leadership, overall crime is down; 36,000 jobs have been created; unemployment has been cut in half; downtown is booming; and Jacksonville is the second best city in the country to find a job. But in order to continue making Jacksonville a 21st century city, Brown knows we need to expand opportunity for all of our citizens. That is why Brown supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and supports equal pay for women. That is also why Brown ordered his Office of General Counsel to review all local, state, and federal anti-discrimination legislation so that city officials can ensure the equality of Jacksonville citizens, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or religion.
This is in stark contrast to Curry, who as chair of the Florida Republican Party, consistently fought efforts to expand opportunity for all citizens. Curry fought against raising the minimum wage; actually fought to lower the minimum wage; fought against legislation that would ensure equal pay for women; and now is naively saying that discrimination doesn’t exist in Jacksonville. What is most egregious, however, is Curry’s efforts to limit Florida citizens’ right to vote:
While pretending to fight voter fraud, Curry’s part purged voter rolls that disproportionately targeted minorities and Democrats; meanwhile his own paid consultants got busted for voter fraud
In 2012, Curry defended attempted purges of Florida voter rolls that he said were intended to target illegal voters, but which were really based on lists that were almost completely incorrect and disproportionately targeted at legitimate Hispanic, African-American, and other Democratic voters. Meanwhile, Curry’s own paid RPOF consultants were caught committing voter fraud across the state. [Palm Beach Post, 06/02/12; Orlando Sentinel, 05/09/12; Tampa Bay Times, The Buzz, 09/30/12; MSNBC, 05/31/12; Tampa Bay Times Blogs, June 1, 2012]
Curry’s party worked in secret to illegally gerrymander Florida’s voting districts, got caught, and their maps thrown out
While he served as chairman of the RPOF, Curry’s paid footsoldiers worked in secret to redraw voting district maps to illegally protect his incumbents by packing minority and Democratic voters into fewer districts. A judge tossed the maps out as unconstitutional, having found that Curry’s operatives made a mockery of the open and transparent redistricting process by drawing partisan maps in the shadows. The same operatives at the center of that crime now work for Curry’s campaign and political committee. [Bradenton Herald/Miami Herald, 11/24/14; Curry Campaign Finance Reports, 2014-2015; Together for a Greater Jacksonville Campaign Finance Reports, 2014-2015; Florida Times-Union, December 21, 2014; Orlando Sentinel via the Columbus Dispatch, July 11, 2014]
Curry’s party pushed voter suppression legislation
In the aftermath of the 2012 elections, Democrats charged that HB 1355, which reduced early voting, eliminated “Souls to the Polls” Sunday, made it hard to change mailing addresses on Election Day, and restricted voter registration groups, was part of a nationwide effort to reduce minority voting. [Wakulla News, February 7, 2013; Palm Beach Post, January 31, 2013; Pensacola News Journal, June 1, 2012; St. Augustine Record, May 31, 2012]
These shameless efforts are proof that Curry is out of touch with Jacksonville’s working families and he is not qualified to be our mayor. His vision for Jacksonville differs significantly from Brown’s. And his priorities differ significantly from what Lewis has dedicated his career.
Lewis is the only living “Big Six” leader of the African-American civil rights movement and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor. Lewis earned this distinction for his decades of public service and vital role in promoting equality. Lewis led voter registration efforts as chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). And fifty years ago, his courage in leading protest marchers in Selma, Alabama was pivotal to convincing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965