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Fentrice Driskell

Tampa Bay

Fentrice Driskell gets Ruth’s List seal of approval

Tampa Democrat Fentrice Driskell announced Thursday that Ruth’s List Florida is backing her campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison in Hillsborough-based House District 63.

“Fentrice is an attorney and a dynamic community leader in Tampa who supports gender equality, women’s reproductive rights, and investing in education to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Pamela Goodman, executive director of Ruth’s List Florida. “The Ruth’s List community — now tens of thousands of members strong — is excited to support her candidacy.”

The Democrat-aligned org bills itself as “the state’s only resource dedicated to recruiting and aiding Democratic women candidates.” Since 2008 it has notched 72 Election Day victories and raised more than $4 million to support women seeking state or local offices.

“I am grateful for the grassroots support Ruth’s List Florida provides Democratic women in Florida,” Driskell said. “I’m proud to accept the endorsement of Ruth’s List and its tens of thousands of members and supporters who believe like I do, that we need more women’s voices in the Florida Legislature who will focus on the things that really matter: investing in our public schools and our communities, expanding access to health care and affordable housing for hard-working families, growing Florida’s economy and supporting our small businesses, and taking care of our seniors and veterans.”

The Harvard- and Georgetown-educated Tampa lawyer filed for HD 63 in early February. She is the only candidate challenging Harrison in the fall. As of May 31, she had raised more than $95,000 for her campaign and had $76,600 on hand. That’s about a third of Harrison’s $225,000 on-hand tally.

The district covers part of Hillsborough County, including portions of northern Tampa and the communities of Lutz, Pebble Creek, Lake Magdalene and Carrollwood. Democrats make up about 39 percent of the swing seat’s electorate, while Republicans hold a 32 percent share.

HD 63 is a perennial target for both major parties.

Harrison served in the House from 2010 to 2012, when former Democratic Rep. Mark Danish beat him by about 700 votes to flip the newly redrawn HD 63 despite raising less than $20,000 for his campaign compared to nearly $300,000 for Harrison.

Harrison reclaimed the seat in the 2014 cycle with a 5-point win over Danish, and in 2016 he emerged victorious in a tough re-election battle against Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione. His sub-2-point victory came as Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the seat by double digits.

Written By

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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