Update: After a day of counting absentee and provisional ballots produced a 1,648 vote lead for Brown, Hogan conceded. Jacksonville has its first black mayor and first Democrat in the job since 1995.
Jacksonville Republicans are reeling because the nightmare they were having when they went to bed last night didn’t slip away as they hoped at today’s dawn. No, Democrat Alvin Brown, a former Clinton administration and Al Gore advisor, African-American, and pro-education candidate (not to be confused with bizarre nobody Alvin Greene of South Carolina) was still 603 votes ahead in the mayor’s race, just like he was last night.
As we speak, absentee and provisional ballots are being counted, so anything could happen in what the elections supervisor is calling the closest mayor’s race in Jacksonville history. Anything could happen, that is, except reinstating the conventional wisdom that a Democrat can’t win in Jacksonville – or in Northeast Florida. Apparently he can.
Brown was one of six candidates in the elimination round in March that was expected to easily pick Republican Audrey Moran, who passes for moderate in these parts, and fellow Republican and incumbent Tax Collector Mike Hogan to face off in the final race. Had that played out, Duval County voters would have the familiar Republican Thing One and Republican Thing Two from which to choose, and First Baptist Church (a Jacksonville institution that pulls most of the power strings), the Chamber of Commerce, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, and a few others could resume running things for another four years.
And then something strange happened.