The Hillsborough County LGBTA Democratic Caucus announced over the weekend that it was endorsing attorney Karen Skyers in the crowded Democratic primary to fill Tampa-based House District 61, which is open due to current Rep. Sean Shaw’s Attorney General bid.
“We are proud to support your efforts toward full equality for LGBTA Floridians and look forward to working with you toward that goal,” the caucus said.
The caucus’ mission is to “foster good will between gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied members of the Democratic Party and the community at large; continue to work with other GLBT and like-minded organizations united with a common purpose; seek individual freedom in the framework of a just society; and seek political freedom in the framework of meaningful participation by all citizens.”
The endorsement sees Skyers join some elite company — so far this cycle, only incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Valrico Democrat Andrew Learned, who is running for Florida’s 15th Congressional District have earned the caucus’ endorsement. The new backer adds to a list that already includes Shaw and Ruth’s List Florida, a Democratic Party-aligned group that supports female candidates for public office.
“I am thankful to the Hillsborough County LGBTA Caucus for their endorsement. Once again, we are reminded that #lovewins. I will champion for equality and laws that protect all of the people, not some of the people,” Skyers said.
Skyers is up against Dianne Hart, Norman Harris and Sharon Carter in the Democratic primary. The winner of that contest will be Shaw’s de facto replacement in the Tampa-based Democratic stronghold, though they will be nominally opposed by write-in candidate Valion Joyce in November.
Florida law allows all voters to participate in primary elections if all candidates are members of the same party, however Joyce’s entry into the race nullifies that rule. HD 61 is one of five state legislative districts this cycle that had its primary locked down by a write-in candidate.
As of Aug. 3, Skyers led in overall fundraising with more than $70,000 raised, though her $13,290 cash on hand puts her behind Hart, who was the second-place finisher in the 2016 Democratic primary for the seat, losing to Shaw by 101 votes.
She’s raised about $33,000 and kicked in $15,000 in candidate loans for an on-hand tally of nearly $31,000 on Aug. 3. Through the same date, Harris had raised $20,435 and had $3,067 at the ready while Carter had raised $5,345, half of it loans, and had $439 in her campaign account.
HD 61 covers downtown Tampa, Ybor City, and Seminole Heights. Democrats hold an overwhelming advantage at the polls.