State Rep. Lori Berman defeated first-time candidate Arthur Morrison in the Democratic primary in the special election for the Senate District 31.
Berman, a longtime state lawmaker, easily took Tuesday’s vote – 95.81 to 4.19 percent.
Last year, Gov. Rick Scott called a special election after state Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned in October after acknowledging an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.
With four terms in the state Legislature, Berman is term-limited. She is now serving her last year in the Florida House. For the SD 31 race, the Lantana Democrat dominated in fundraising, far outpacing both Morrison and her Republican rival, taking more than $366K, with over $100,000 between Dec. 15 and Jan. 25 alone.
By the end of December, Berman’s political committee, Friends of Lori Berman, also had about $113,000 on hand.
Berman also enjoyed a broad range of support: Florida AFL-CIO, Publix, utility company Duke Energy, hospital group HCA, several lobbyists and firms such as Ron Book, Colodny Fass and Meenan.
The successful campaign ran on Berman’s platform of years of legislative work on education, environmental issues and women’s rights.
Berman will next take on Tami Donnally, vice chair of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, in the April 10 special election.
Since Democrats in SD 31 hold a significant registration lead (47 to 24 percent), Berman immediately becomes the odds-on favorite. However, if Berman ultimately wins, she will not take office until after the end of the 2018 Legislative Session, which is set for March 9. She will serve the rest of the term Clemens won in 2016, which runs through 2020.
SD 31 covers Lake Worth, Lantana, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.