TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Florida Republicans made sweeping gains under Senate President-Designate Kathleen Passidomo’s leadership.
Florida’s Voice spoke with Passidomo about the red tsunami that led Republicans to have supermajorities in both the Florida House and Senate.
She said not only were the candidates high quality, but they outperformed their opponents on the ground in key areas.
“It’s because we had the best candidates. Secondly, they worked the hardest,” Passidomo said. “They were out on the campaign trail every day, all day for a long time meeting voters, putting in the time, and I don’t believe the candidates that they ran against put in that kind of time.”
Florida Senate Democrats lost six battleground senate seats they fiercely advocated for leading up to Tuesday’s election. Prior to the election, Senate Democrat leaders launched their “Florida Freedom” statewide bus tour to campaign for Loranne Ausley, Joy Goff-Marcil, Eunic Ortiz, Janet Cruz, Raquel Pacheco, and Janelle Perez.
All six Democrat candidates lost to Republicans.
“Some of the things that they’re talking about. It’s one progressive idea after the other. It’s an anathema to what the voters want. They spent a lot of time talking about non issues,” Passidomo said. “They kept trying to hit us on abortion and the voters weren’t paying attention to that. What they were paying attention to was our message on the economy. On school choice. On parental rights. Those are the things that the voters support.”
When Democrats launched their statewide “Florida Freedom” tour before the election, Senate Republicans dubbed it the “B.S. Express” in a counter-campaign.
“And I don’t think the bus tour made a difference because I almost looked at that as a field trip,” Passidomo said. “I don’t think it was getting a message out to voters because my understanding is that they didn’t encounter a lot of voters. So it was more like a field trip.”
The Republican party of Florida flipped traditionally blue counties across the state, such as Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Osceola, and Seminole counties. In some cases those counties flipped by double-digit margins, to the shock and dismay of Democrats.
Passidomo believes a big reason for the flip is because of Republican policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Starting with the governor and the legislature keeping the state open during the pandemic while other states were shutting down, our economy came roaring back,” she said. “And I think the voters approved of that and they confirmed the fact that those policies that we have undertaken are the right direction.”
Senate Democrat Leader Lauren Book, who led the Senate campaign efforts in battleground areas, said it will take years for the party to rebuild after the Republican’s wins.
“It’s taken years for FL Democrats to get to this place & will now take years of uncomfortable, hard work to rebuild what’s been lost. Still, I’m proud of our frontline candidates—working moms who put up a strong fight & campaigned harder than ever to represent their communities,” Book said on Twitter.
Republicans celebrated the election of 28 new and returning Republican senators around the state, including historic victories with Corey Simon, who is the first Black Republican since Reconstruction, Jay Collins, who is the first Green Beret, and Alexis Calatayud who is one of the youngest members ever elected.
Corey Simon won against Ausley, Jason Brodeur won against Goff-Marcil, Nick DiCeglie won against Ortiz, Jay Collins won against Cruz, Ileana Garcia won against Raquel Pacheco, and Alexis Calatayud won against Perez.
“The homophobic, transphobic, & misogynistic comments hurled at me were, I’m sure, just a taste of what folks can expect over the next four years. He doesn’t have a vision, & voters voted for fear. We have to listen to that & work to have the conversation w/ neighbors,” Ortiz said.
Florida’s Voice exclusively spoke with Simon in his first interview after winning the election and booting out the incumbent.
“It’s really not about me, it’s about the folks that are coming behind me and making sure that we’re able to have voices in every room and be okay with it. And I think a lot of folks are starting to see that and I’m happy to be kind of the first to do it. I’m just excited to be able to represent the folks here,” Simon said.
In DeSantis’ victory speech Tuesday, he celebrated historically blue districts flipping.
“Thanks to the overwhelming support of the people of Florida, we not only won election, we have re-written the political map,” DeSantis said. “Thank you for honoring us with a win for the ages.”
The governor also thanked voters that he may not have had support from when he initially ran for Florida’s governor in 2018 but has gained their support over his years in office.
“It’s clearly apparent that this election we will have garnered a significant number of votes from people who may not have voted for me four years ago and I just want to let you know I am honored to have earned your trust and your support over these four years,” DeSantis said.
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