Democrats took advantage of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ focus on the presidential election and Iowa’s GOP primary Tuesday to flip a seat in the Florida’s state House.
Caught sleeping at the wheel were Republican officials who allowed a special election to place Orlando Democrat Tom Keen to fill in a vacant House seat.
The House seat became available late last year when state Rep. Fred Hawkins resigned to become the president of South Florida State College.
The Republican challenger, Erika Booth, lost the lightly promoted election by 2%.
Democrats celebrated the victory. Party leaders posted on X:
“Tonight, we flipped a seat in the Florida House of Representatives, electing veteran Tom Keen. It’s the *first* Democratic flip of the year and the second major loss for Ron DeSantis this week.”
Keen won the election despite Booth out-fundraising her opponent (with the help of the Kotch brothers supported Americans for Prosperity Action PAC) by a margin of almost 3 to 1.
Keen, a Navy veteran who recently served as a manager at Collins Aerospace, secured 51% of the vote to Booth’s 49%.
Pundits suggest Keen’s District 35 began to lean more Democrat after the 2020 census and legislative redistricting. The newly drawn boundary lines now include sections of Osceola and Orange counties.
The Washington Examiner reported that “Keen will become the 36th Democrat in the Florida House, which remains largely in Republican control with 84 state representatives.”
Florida Republicans maintain their strong majority control in the state Senate with an advantage of 28 to 12.
DeSantis, who placed second in the Iowa Primary, is now preparing for next week’s primary in New Hampshire.
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