Karen Skyers enters race to succeed Sean Shaw in HD 61

Karen Skyers-01

Former public defender and lobbyist Karen Skyers announced via Twitter Tuesday that she is entering the race for Hillsborough-based House District 61.

Skyers, a Democrat, joins Sharon Carter, Norman Harris, Dianne Hart and Byron Henry in the primary race. HD 61 is opening up in the fall due to Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw foregoing re-election to run for Attorney General.

“The people of District 61 need a representative who knows the ropes, who understands the political games that make or break a water project, a community center, or safety improvements in a neighborhood. Our community needs someone who isn’t afraid to stand up and speak out because that’s what I’ve been doing all along,” Skyers said in a news release.

“I understand issues that matter to people of color, no matter their shade of black or brown, and what I’ve learned is that some needs are universal: good jobs, affordable health care, safe and high-quality schools, thriving communities — every one of us wants that. And that’s why I’m running.”

Skyers was until recently a lobbyist with Fort Lauderdale-based advocacy group Becker & Poliakoff. State records show she withdrew from the firm on March 15.

Before her lobbying career, she was the legislative aide to Sen. Arthenia Joyner, who represented the Tampa Bay area in the Florida Senate from 2006 through 2016.

Skyers has also worked as a public defender in Hillsborough County. She earned her law degree from Florida A&M, and in 2016 was named a distinguished alumni by the FAMU College of Law.

The HD 61 race is wide open.

The only candidate to have made headway so far on the fundraising front is Hart, who narrowly lost to Shaw in the 2016 Democratic Primary for the seat. She filed for the seat the day after Shaw entered the AG race and had been considered the front-runner thus far.

She has $14,200 in her campaign account, nearly all of it loaned.

Carter and Henry entered the race March 7. Carter, an instructor at Tampa’s Armwood High School, reported $0 raised in her first campaign finance report, while Harris’ is still pending.

Henry filed his paperwork to run on Dec. 21 but hasn’t reported any contributions as of his February campaign report.

HD 61 covers downtown Tampa, Ybor City, and Seminole Heights. Democrats hold an overwhelming advantage at the polls.

Skyers’ full announcement is below.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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