Al Lawson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Al Lawson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2017 – January 3, 2023
Preceded byCorrine Brown
Succeeded byJohn Rutherford
Minority Leader of the Florida Senate
In office
Preceded bySteven Geller
Succeeded byNan Rich
Member of the Florida Senate
In office
November 7, 2000 – November 2, 2010
Preceded byPat Thomas
Succeeded byBill Montford
Constituency3rd district (2000–02)
6th district (2002–10)
Member of the
Florida House of Representatives
In office
November 7, 1982 – November 7, 2000
Preceded byLeonard J. Hall
Succeeded byCurtis B. Richardson
Constituency9th district (1982–92)
8th district (1992–2000)
Personal details
Alfred James Lawson Jr.

(1948-09-23) September 23, 1948 (age 75)
Midway, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Delores Brooks
(m. 1975)
EducationFlorida A&M University (BA)
Florida State University (MPA)
WebsiteHouse website

Alfred James Lawson Jr. (born September 23, 1948)[1] is an American businessman and politician who was the U.S. representative for Florida's 5th congressional district from 2017 to 2023. The district, which was eliminated following redistricting during the 2022 Florida legislative session, stretched across most of the border with Georgia, including most of the majority-black areas between Tallahassee and Jacksonville. Lawson challenged fellow Congressman Neal Dunn in the newly redrawn 2nd congressional district, which pitted them against each other in Lawson's home city. Lawson won the Democratic primary unopposed, and lost to Dunn in the general election.

Lawson served in the Florida legislature for 28 years, from 1982 to 2000 in the Florida House of Representatives and from 2000 to 2010 in the Florida Senate (representing the 6th district), where he was elected to serve as the Democratic leader and rose to the rank of "Dean of the Senate" before his election to Congress. After two failed campaigns for Congress, Lawson defeated incumbent Corrine Brown in the 2016 Democratic primary and won the general election.

Early life and education[edit]

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 be 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 and took the Seminoles to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Lawson also earned his Master of Public Administration from Florida State University.

Lawson is an Episcopalian.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Lawson ran for the Democratic nomination in Florida's 2nd congressional district in 2010, challenging seven-term incumbent Allen Boyd.[4] He narrowly lost to Boyd in the Democratic primary,[5] and Boyd lost to Republican newcomer Steve Southerland in the general election by more than 12 percentage points.[6][7]


Lawson ran for the seat again, and won the Democratic nomination against Blue Dog-endorsed state representative Leonard Bembry. He lost to Southerland in the general election by less than 6 points.[8]


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 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 representative the district had had since its creation in 1993.[9]

The district's demographics appeared to be against Lawson. While it now included most of Tallahassee, the capital and its suburbs only accounted for 32% of the district's population, while the Jacksonville area-Brown's base-accounted for 61%.[10] But Lawson's candidacy received a significant boost in July 2016, when Brown was indicted on federal corruption charges.[11] He defeated Brown in the Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—on August 30. He then defeated Republican Glo Smith in the November 8 general election with 64% of the vote.[12]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Gun policy[edit]

After 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".[15] Lawson supports restriction on assault weapons.[16] In 2017, he voted no on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would require all states to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states.[17][18] Additionally, those with concealed carry permits would be permitted to carry concealed weapons in school zones.[19] 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.[17][20]

Yemeni civil war[edit]

Lawson was one of five house Democrats to vote for the U.S. to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia and to support the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[21] 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[edit]


  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 (March 22, 2017). "Florida Democrat talks about his American Basketball Association career". Roll Call. CQ Roll Call. Archived from the original on June 14, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Religious affiliation of members of 117th Congress" (PDF). PEW Research Center. January 24, 2021. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  4. ^ Kam, Dara (February 5, 2009). "Palm Beach Post Blogs: Area news, sports, entertainment, business & more". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  5. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (August 25, 2010). "Rep. Allen Boyd holds on in Florida". Politico. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  6. ^ Helgoth, Ali (November 3, 2010). "Southerland defeats Boyd". The News Herald. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  7. ^ "2010 General Election Results". Florida Division of Elections. November 3, 2010. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  8. ^ "November 6, 2012 General Election, Official Results". Florida Division of Elections. November 6, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Caputo, Marc (December 15, 2015). "Lawson announces run for Congress". Politico.
  10. ^ "Daily Kos Elections congressional district redistribution analysis (post-2010 census)". Google Docs.
  11. ^ Kelly, Nora (July 8, 2016). "Representative Corrine Brown Indicted on Federal Charges". The Atlantic.
  12. ^ Gardner, Lynnsey; Moyer, Crystal (August 30, 2016). "After 12 terms in Congress, Corrine Brown defeated". WJXT. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  13. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  14. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  15. ^ Leary, Alex (February 15, 2018). "Florida Democrats say school massacre a call for gun control". Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay, Florida. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  16. ^ Patterson, Steve (November 7, 2016). "Al Lawson wins North Florida seat in Congress, replacing U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown". Jacksonville, Florida. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Al Lawson, Jr.'s Voting Records on Issue". ISPY. Vote Smart. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  18. ^ Mosendz, Polly (November 29, 2017). "Get Ready for Concealed Guns in All 50 States". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  19. ^ Kruzel, John (December 7, 2017). "Concealed carry bill lets states regulate guns in schools". Politifact. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  20. ^ Caplan, Andrew (February 21, 2018). "Your leaders: 4-1 against stricter gun laws". The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  21. ^ Fuller, Matt; Ahmed, Akbar Shahid (December 12, 2018). "5 Democrats Bail Out Paul Ryan And Protect Saudi Arabia". Huffington Post.

External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Hurley Rudd
Preceded by
Robert Trammell
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 8th district

Succeeded by
Florida Senate
Preceded by Member of the Florida Senate
from the 3rd district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the Florida Senate
from the 6th district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Minority Leader of the Florida Senate
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative