Republicans extend their domination of the Florida Legislature

They claim supermajorities in both the state House and Senate

By: - November 9, 2022 1:00 am

Old Florida Capitol building. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

The Republican Party gained supermajorities in the Florida House and Senate during the midterm elections, allowing them to further isolate diminished Democratic minorities and override any vetoes by Gov. Ron DeSantis should they be of a mind to buck the triumphant GOP governor.

The party now holds 28 seats in the Florida Senate, constituting a two-thirds of the 40-member chamber, increasing their power under the Florida Constitution. In the 120-member House, they now number 85.

State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo. Credit: Danielle J. Brown, Oct. 19, 2021.

The new Senate President, Kathleen Passidomo of Collier County, issued a written statement praising the accomplishment.

“With the first Black Republican since Reconstruction, the first Green Beret and one of the youngest members ever elected, we will return to Tallahassee with a supermajority and a renewed commitment to fighting for access to the American Dream for all Floridians,” Passidomo said.

“These victories are a definitive win for parental rights, fiscal responsibility, access to world-class education opportunities for our students including school choice, protecting our children and the unborn, and ensuring government is never able to strip anyone of the dignity of work or their right to worship,” she continued.

Paul Renner, the new House speaker, issued his own statement.

State House Rep. Paul Renner. Credit: House

“Tonight was historic. Florida voters are sending the largest Republican majority ever to Tallahassee becausethey support the direction Republican leadership has taken our state. The Florida House will continue to pursue a bold, conservative agenda for the nation to follow that gives citizens more freedom and opportunity to achieve their American Dream,” Renner said.

The Democrats arrived at Tuesday already with a disadvantage: 31 Republicans ran unopposed in the House (with a smattering facing third-party or write-in opposition) and nine ran in the Senate unopposed. For Democrats, 14 House members and six senators ran unopposed.

Familiar Democratic faces will be missing when the Florida Legislature reconvenes, including Tallahassee-area incumbent Sen. Loranne Ausley and Central Florida House member Carlos Guillermo Smith.

That’s based on unofficial vote counts released Tuesday by Florida Division of Elections. You can find updated Senate results here and House results here.

Ausley, an attorney, was trailing GOP challenger Corey Simon, an African American who played football at FSU and in the NFL and later ran Volunteer Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis, with 46.41 percent of the vote to 53.59 for Simon in SD 3.

In the Tampa Bay area, incumbent Democrat Janet Cruz was trailing Green Beret veteran Jay Collins in SD 15. He had 54.8 percent of the vote to 45.2 for Cruz.

In SD 10, Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur claimed victory over Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil with 54.54 percent to her 45.46 percent. Brodeur, president and CEO of the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, allegedly was tied to a “ghost candidate” scandal in his last election. Groff-Marcil is an attorney first elected to the state House in 2018.

“Floridians sent a clear message tonight about who we are as a state and the values we hold dear by rejecting the radical ideologies being pushed by the fringe: abortion without limits, indoctrination in our classrooms, lockdowns, mandates and defunding the police,” Brodeur said in a written statement.

Sen. Victor Torres was holding onto a narrow lead in SD 25 against Republican challenger Peter Vivaldi, 51.96 percent to 48.04 percent. Torres is a former New York Transit cop elected to the Senate in 2016 following service in the Florida House. Vivaldi is a conservative talk show host.

In the House, Smith was the first openly gay member to serve in the chamber, having first been elected in 2016, around the time of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting; he would become a prominent supporter of gun control but the Legislature redrew his district to be more friendly to the GOP.

Susan Plasencia, led with 52.23 percent compared to Smith’s 47.77 percent of the vote. She runs an events organization company and is the sister of Rene Plasencia, who resigned his House seat in March.

“So proud of the authentic campaign we ran for #HD37! Thanks to over 300+ #TeamCarlos volunteers, we knocked on over 19K doors, made over 25K calls and sent 500K+ texts to voters! We left it all on the field,” Smith tweeted. “Most of all, we gave people hope for a Florida we can be proud of.”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.