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Guns, Trump, Party Loyalty: Key Issues for Dems in Florida’s Fifth District Primary

A congressman who is the only member of the Florida Democratic Congressional Caucus who may have taken money from the NRA and the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to applaud President Trump during the State of the Union address is accused of being a DINO by a fellow Democrat.

Well, it takes one to know one, right?

Folio, a weekly magazine that bills itself as “N.E. Florida’s Independent Voice,” wrote that the Democratic primary battle between incumbent Rep. Al Lawson (D) and Alvin Brown (D) should take place in “Jurassic Park” rather than the state’s Fifth Congressional District “since it’s a clash between two DINOs.”

Brown, who was the mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., when Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old black teenager, was shot to death in a confrontation with a 47-year-old white man who complained the teen was playing his music too loud, has accused Lawson of taking $2,500 in “blood money” from the NRA.

“It is shameful that my opponent talks out of both sides of his mouth in an effort to score political points as families mourn the loss of their children. Unlike Al Lawson, who hypocritically takes blood money from the NRA,” Brown said in a statement, “I will never accept campaign contributions from the gun lobby. If Lawson wants any credibility on this issue, he must return the money he took from the NRA immediately.”

Lawson, who served 28 years in the Florida House and Senate before being elected to Congress in 2016, told Florida Politics the charge that he took money from the NRA was a lie.

“Once again, Alvin Brown and his campaign are lying. Not only have I not taken any money from the National Rifle Association or any of its affiliates, I also have scored a zero on issues important to the NRA,” Lawson said.

“Brown is trying to use this national tragedy to fundraise and revive his failed political career,” Lawson added.

But whether or not Lawson took money from the NRA, his track record on guns has not been in sync with other members of his party.

For instance, Lawson said in 1993 that he had a “drastic” proposal. He thought it would be a good idea if every household in Florida had at least one gun.

As a state representative, he proposed legislation that would not only ask every household in Florida to have a firearm in the closet; Lawson’s bill would have required a gun in every home.

To Lawson, it seemed obvious: if the bad guys knew they would face a good guy with a weapon, they would never break into a Florida home.

''It absolutely will work,'' Lawson told the Orlando Sentinel. ''I grew up in the country. Every household had a weapon. You didn't have a problem with break-ins.’'