Rep. Shawn Harrison has drawn a Democratic challenger as he seeks another term this fall in the Florida House.
Tampa Democrat Fentrice Driskell opened a campaign account Tuesday to run against Harrison in Hillsborough County’s battleground House District 63, according to the state Division of Elections website.
House District 63 includes portions of northern Tampa, Lutz, Pebble Creek, Lake Magdalene, University, and Carrollwood.
Driskill has an impressive resume. The Florida native is an attorney at Carlton Fields. She received her law degree from Georgetown and her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where she was the was the first African-American female student government president. She also serves the community by volunteering on the boards of the Athena Society, Tampa Crossroads, the Hillsborough Education Foundation, and the George Edgecomb Bar Association.
“Tallahassee is broken – the tables are tilted in favor of the powerful and politically connected instead of our hardworking Florida families, small business owners and seniors,” said Driskell. “We need to focus on common-sense solutions to the challenges we face every day in Hillsborough from investing in education and transportation to protecting access to healthcare.”
Not soon after filing her paperwork, several members of the Democratic Party establishment endorsed Driskell, signaling to any other possible candidates to give Driskell a clear shot at Harrison.
Among those backing Driskell are House Democratic Leader Rep. Janet Cruz, former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, and former University of South Florida President Betty Castor.
“Fentrice Driskell is the type of leader we need in Tallahassee that will put the priorities of Florida families ahead of big special interests,” said Cruz. “She will bring integrity to public office and advocate for public schools, affordable health care, and smart public transit.”
Harrison served in the House from 2010 to 2012, when former Democratic Rep. Mark Danish beat him by about 700 votes to flip the district despite raising less than $20,000 for his campaign compared to nearly $300,000 for Harrison.
The following cycle, Danish failed to repeat despite vastly improved fundraising numbers. Harrison took 53 percent of the vote in 2014, and in 2016 he held on to the seat in a tough re-election battle against Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione.
So far this cycle, Harrison has raised $95,778 and has $73,466 cash on hand.
No other candidates have emerged for the race.
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.