A few weeks after ousting Republican Shawn Harrison from Tampa’s House District 63, newly minted Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell took the first step toward another run in the perennial swing seat.
On Tuesday, Driskell joined more than 30 other incumbent members of the Florida House — including fellow freshman Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani of Orlando, Rep. Dianne Hart of Tampa and Rep. Jennifer Webb of Gulfport — in opening a campaign account to run for another term.
Driskell was one of eight Democrats to flip a Republican-held state House seat in the Nov. 6 general election. She defeated Harrison, who was in the second term of his second stint in the House, by 6 percentage points.
The win was the latest twist in the HD 63 saga. The seat has been a priority for both parties since the 2012 redistricting session. Prior to his election in 2014, Harrison also held HD 63’s antecessor for a term.
In 2012, he was knocked out of office with a surprise victory by former Democratic Rep. Mark Danish, who overcame a massive fundraising deficit to win by a mere 700 votes. Harrison reclaimed the seat with his own 6-point win in 2014, a wave year for Republicans.
Driskell overcame a fundraising deficit as well. She raised an impressive $250,000 for her bid, though Harrison amassed more than $550,000 between his campaign account and PAC, Committee for an Innovative Florida.
Even though the “blue wave” didn’t wash over Florida this year it did crash into Hillsborough County, flipping the county commission into Democratic control for the first time in 14 years as well as producing Driskell’s and HD 59 Rep. Adam Hattersley’s wins.
HD 63 covers part of Hillsborough, 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.