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Audrey Gibson wins close vote to lead Senate Democrats

On Monday evening, state Sen. Audrey Gibson won a narrow 8-7 vote of Senate Democrats to become Senate Democratic Leader Designate for the 2018-2020 legislative term.

Gibson will succeed current Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II when his term ends next November.

The split was described by one observers as moderates versus progressives, a dynamic which some fear will split the caucus; our source tells us Braynon was the deciding vote.

In a “you heard it here first” moment, Florida Politics called this in the Oct. 30 edition of Sunburn.

“I look forward to working with Caucus members on their priorities and ensuring their voices are heard on legislation impacting all Floridians.  I am also excited about bringing in new Democrat Senators to the Florida Senate to create a legislative balance in the Chamber,” said Gibson Monday evening.

Gibson thought she had the votes last week, but our understanding is that there was a late challenge from Orange County Democrat Randolph Bracy.

The drama built toward the Monday night vote, yet Gibson — true to her original expectations and vote count — pulled off the win by the narrowest of margins.

The role was to go to former Sen. Jeff Clemens, who resigned in October after admitting an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

For Northeast Florida, this is the second big piece of Senate news on Monday.

Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley took over the Appropriations Committee chair after former budget chief Jack Latvala relinquished that powerful position, as he defends himself against an onslaught of sexual harassment allegations.

Senator Gibson, chair of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee, serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Her other committee assignments: Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, Commerce and Tourism Committee, Judiciary Committee, Regulated Industries Committee, and Joint Legislative Auditing Committee.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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