Jax Mayor Alvin Brown, rising Democratic star, refuses to take a stand on discrimination

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Nearly one year after the Florida Democratic Party pulled out all of the stops to secure a win in the Jacksonville mayoral race, the party could be left with egg on its face.

Alvin Brown, who upset Republican Mike Hogan last year, has ruffled a few Democratic feathers during his first year in office, but nothing could upset Democrats more than his stance on discriminating against gays.

Or rather, his failure to take a stance.

Brown, a former Clinton Administration official, has refused to back a proposed city ordinance that would ban discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender individuals.

The ordinance has been put forward by prominent business and political leaders, including Steve Halverson, the past chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and John Delaney, the former Republican mayor and current president of the University of North Florida. It’s being sponsored in the Jacksonville City Council by Warren Jones, an African-American.

“It’s such an important issue I don’t want to speculate or assume anything,” Brown told the Florida Times-Union last week. “I haven’t seen it. I don’t want to speculate.”

Brown’s refusal to address the issue surprised many former supporters, some of whom told reporters he had expressly promised to support the changes while running for office.

“He straight up said it would be a priority for his administration,” Adam Beaugh, a former Brown campaign volunteer told the Times-Union. “He made it sound like he’d go to the City Council members and try to convince them to support it.”

Brown’s silence on an issue as basic as discrimination is certain to embarrass the Florida Democratic Party, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his campaign. It’s also certain to embarrass Chairman Rod Smith, who publicly endorsed and campaigned for Brown.

The Democrat most likely to be most surprised by Brown’s stance, however, is U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schutlz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Wasserman-Schultz, a long-time advocate for gay rights, is a close friend of Brown’s and was instrumental in securing a job in his administration for Terrance Ashanta-Barker, the husband of Tracie Pough, Wasserman-Schultz’s chief of staff.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.