Alfred James Lawson Jr. (born September 23, 1948),[1] is an American politician who is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 5th congressional district, serving since 2017. The district stretches across most of the border with Georgia, including most of the majority-black areas between Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

Al Lawson
Al Lawson 115th Congress photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded byCorrine Brown
Member of the Florida Senate
In office
November 7, 2000 – November 2, 2010
Preceded byPat Thomas
Succeeded byBill Montford
Constituency3rd district (2000–2002)
6th district (2002–2010)
Member of the
Florida House of Representatives
In office
November 2, 1982 – November 7, 2000
Preceded byRedistricted
Succeeded byCurtis Richardson
Constituency9th district (1982–1992)
8th district (1992–2000)
Personal details
Born (1948-09-23) September 23, 1948 (age 71)
Midway, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Delores Brooks (m. 1975)
EducationFlorida A&M University (BA)
Florida State University (MPA)
WebsiteHouse website
Lawson as a state representative, 1984
Lawson as a state senator, 2006

A Democrat, Lawson served in the Florida Legislature for 28 years, rising to the rank of "Dean of the Senate" prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. From 2000 to 2010, Lawson served Florida Senate, representing the 6th District, where he was elected to serve as the Democratic Leader. From 1982 to 2000, he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

Early life and educationEdit

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 become 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 where he helped take the Seminoles to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Lawson also earned his Master of Public Administration from Florida State University.

Campaigns for the U.S. HouseEdit


Lawson ran for the Democratic nomination in Florida's 2nd congressional district in 2010, challenging seven-term incumbent Allen Boyd.[3] Lawson narrowly lost to Boyd in the Democratic primary,[4] and Boyd lost to Republican newcomer Steve Southerland in the general election by more than 12 percentage points.[5][6]


Lawson ran again for the seat in 2012, and won the Democratic nomination against Blue Dog-endorsed state Rep. Leonard Bembry. He lost to incumbent Republican nominee Steve Southerland in the general election by less than 6 points.[7]


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, however, 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 congresswoman the district had known since its creation in 1993.[8]

On paper, the district's demographics appeared to be against Lawson. While the district now included most of Tallahassee, the capital and its suburbs only accounted for 32 percent of the district's population, while the Jacksonville area accounted for 61 percent.[9] However, his bid received a significant boost in July 2016, when Brown was indicted on federal corruption charges.[10] He defeated Brown in the Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—on August 30, 2016. He then defeated Republican Glo Smith in the general election on November 8 with 64% of the vote.[11]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Political positionsEdit

Gun lawEdit

Following 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".[13] Lawson supports restriction on assault weapons.[14] In 2017, Lawson voted no on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would require all states to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states.[15][16] Additionally, those with concealed carry permits would be permitted to carry concealed weapons in school zones.[17] 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.[15][18]

See alsoEdit


  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 (22 March 2017). "Florida Democrat talks about his American Basketball Association career". Roll Call. CQ Roll Call. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  3. ^ Kam, Dara (2009-02-05). "Palm Beach Post Blogs: Area news, sports, entertainment, business & more". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
  4. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (2010-08-25). "Rep. Allen Boyd holds on in Florida". Politico. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  5. ^ Helgoth, Ali (2010-11-03). "Southerland defeats Boyd". The News Herald. Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  6. ^ "2010 General Election Results". Florida Division of Elections. 2010-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  7. ^ "November 6, 2012 General Election, Official Results". Florida Division of Elections. 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
  8. ^ Caputo, Marc (December 15, 2015). "Lawson announces run for Congress". Politico.
  9. ^ "Daily Kos Elections congressional district redistribution analysis (post-2010 census)". Google Docs.
  10. ^ Kelly, Nora (July 8, 2016). "Representative Corrine Brown Indicted on Federal Charges". The Atlantic.
  11. ^ Gardner, Lynnsey; Moyer, Crystal (August 30, 2016). "After 12 terms in Congress, Corrine Brown defeated". WJXT. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  12. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  13. ^ Leary, Alex (15 February 2018). "Florida Democrats say school massacre a call for gun control". Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay, Florida. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  14. ^ Patterson, Steve (7 November 2016). "Al Lawson wins North Florida seat in Congress, replacing U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown". Jacksonville, Florida. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Al Lawson, Jr.'s Voting Records on Issue:". ISPY. Vote Smart. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  16. ^ Mosendz, Polly (2017-11-29). "Get Ready for Concealed Guns in All 50 States". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  17. ^ Kruzel, John (2017-12-07). "Concealed carry bill lets states regulate guns in schools". Politifact. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  18. ^ Caplan, Andrew (21 February 2018). "Your leaders: 4-1 against stricter gun laws". The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida. Retrieved 22 February 2018.

External linksEdit