New group of Dem state lawmakers announce support for Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for U.S. Senate

By: - November 20, 2023 9:00 am

U.S. Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (photo credit: Mucarsel-Powell campaign)

A dozen sitting state lawmakers and one former state legislator announced Monday that they are the latest group of Florida Democrats to publicly declare their support for Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for U.S. Senate in 2024.

State Sens. Tracie Davis and Victor Torres are endorsing the former South Florida member of Congress, as are state Reps. Bruce Antone, Kristen Arrington, Lavon Bracy-Davis, Hillary Cassel, Dan Daley, Joseph Geller, Rita Harris, Christine Hunchofsky, Johanna Lopez, and Felicia Robinson. Former state Sen. Loranne Ausley is also backing her candidacy.

Mucarsel-Powell served one term in Congress from 2018 to 2020. She worked as a senior adviser for the gun control group Giffords before announcing her candidacy in August. She is considered the leading Democrat in the primary race for Senate taking place next August, with the winner to face GOP incumbent Rick Scott in Nov. 2024.

“As I talk to voters from every corner of our state about the issues that are important to them, it’s clear to me that we all have a lot more in common with one another than extremists like Rick Scott want us to believe,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a written statement.

“We all want lower costs, affordable health care, good-paying jobs, safe communities, and the right to make our own decisions. Floridians are fed up with Rick Scott’s self-serving, dangerous agenda — that’s why we’re uniting like never before to protect and expand economic opportunities for Floridians and defeat him. I’m so grateful to have earned the support of these tireless leaders who are going to help us flip Florida next November.”

This is the second batch of endorsements from Democratic state legislators for Mucarsel-Powell as she shores up her base in what is considered an uphill battle to knock off Scott. She’s also been endorsed by Florida Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kathy Castor, Maxwell Frost, and Lois Frankel.

State lawmakers cited Mucarsel-Powell’s background in backing her candidacy.

“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has worked with communities to reduce gun violence, to fight for lower costs, and to protect our environment,” said South Florida state Rep. Dan Daley in a statement sent to the Phoenix.

“As a young woman, Debbie tragically lost her own father to gun violence — protecting our families is personal to her. That’s why we can count on Debbie in the Senate to fight for common-sense regulation to keep our communities safe from gun violence. Debbie doesn’t just talk — she gets things done, and that’s why I’m confident her election to the U.S. Senate would be a victory for all Floridians.”

Other candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Senate include Matt Boswell, Rod Joseph, and Jason Williams, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. Democrats not listed on the site but who have also announced they’re in the race include former state Rep. Brian Rush and Stanley Williams.

Former Florida Dem. Congressman Alan Grayson announced this summer that he was exploring a candidacy for Senate.

“The status is the same,” Grayson told the Phoenix on Monday. “I filed the notice with the FEC to run, awhile back.”

Major challenge

West Virginia Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin recently announced that he will not run for reelection next year, giving Republicans an opportunity to pick up his seat and increasing their chances of flipping Senate control. One of the Senate seats that Democrats would like to flip next year is Scott’s, but that will be a major challenge.  The Sunshine State is one of 11 states with Republican incumbent senators up for reelection in 2024. The Cook Political Report has listed Florida U.S. Senate’s seat as remaining “Likely Republican.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott walks to a closed-door, classified briefing for Senators at U.S. Capitol Building on Feb. 14, 2023, in Washington, DC. Scott is running for reelection in 2024. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Mucarsel-Powell campaign heralded a CNN story last month that listed her race against Scott as one of “the 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2024.” (It was listed as the 10th most likely). The story mentioned how the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was running digital ads taking aim at Scott for his wildly unpopular call in 2022 to sunset all federal programs every five years, including Social Security and Medicare (which he later rolled back). But that analysis acknowledges that, “[e]ven with Democratic investment, though, it’s going to take a lot to flip this seat blue.”

That’s because, unlike Scott’s previous three elections for governor and senator, which he never won by more than 1 percentage point, Florida Republicans now hold a substantial lead over Democrats in terms of voter registration, and it’s growing larger every month. That lead is now at more than 680,000 as of Oct. 31, according to the Florida Division of Election website.

Last year Florida GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Democratic challenger Val Demings by 16 points.

“I wouldn’t want to run against me,” Scott told CNN last week.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.

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