The Florida Democratic Party is claiming victory amid the announcement that Frank Artiles has resigned his post.
“The Florida Democratic Party began calling for Artiles’ resignation as soon as news hit of his racists and sexist remarks toward his Senate colleagues,” said Stephen Bittel, the chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, in a statement. “Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate and the Republican Party of Florida have been content with letting Artiles off with just a slap on the wrist — his roommate, Republican Representative Jose Oliva even saying that Artiles has ‘acted honorably.’”
Artiles resigned his seat Friday rather than face a hearing that could have resulted in his explusion from the Senate. He made national news after he accosted Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, and Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, calling her a “b—h” and a “girl” in a dispute over legislation at a private club in Tallahassee Monday night. Thurston and Gibson are black.
Artiles also used a slang variation of the ‘N-word,’ referring to white Republicans who supported Joe Negron as Senate President. While Artiles apologized on the Senate floor Wednesday, many said it wasn’t enough and called for his resignation. Thurston, the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, subsequently filed a Senate rules complaint against Artiles seeking his explusion.
“We are pleased that the residents of District 40 will no longer bear the burden of being represented by someone with a history of violence and bigotry and that they will have the opportunity to vote for a Senator that represents their values,” continued Bittel.
A special election be held to fill that seat. Democrats are already begun fundraising off Artiles resignation, sending an email to supporters Friday afternoon telling them they need to raise “another $10,000 in our Special Election Rapid Response fund before midnight tonight.”
“Here’s the thing: Nationwide, we’ve seen Democrats make BIG gains in ruby-red districts during special elections. If we want to flip this seat, we have to bring that same enthusiasm to this special election,” the fundraising email read. This race will be the first major election that Floridians face since November’s disastrous results.If we’re able to deliver a big win and take this seat back, it will send a crystal clear message that Floridians aren’t going to stand for Donald Trump and Frank Artiles’s extreme, racist right-wing agenda.”