Sen. Kevin Rader is leaving the Senate after just one term, announcing Tuesday he will drop his 2020 reelection bid in Senate District 29.
Rader, who also works as an insurance agent, won the seat in 2016 after serving six years in the Florida House. This year, Rader was eligible to seek a second four-year term in the Senate before he would have been forced out by term limits.
“After a great deal of self-reflection and many serious conversations with my loving wife and partner, Amy, I have decided against seeking another term in office as I turn my full attention toward my family and my business,” Rader said.
“Representing the people of this district has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I’d like to thank the voters for trusting me to look out for their interests in Tallahassee, which I have sought to do every day whether we are in session or not.”
The SD 29 seat is significant to the South Florida community. The district includes Parkland in Broward County where the infamous 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred.
“Since I entered the Senate, we have made much progress on many of the issues we face as a community here in South Florida as well as the collective challenges we face as a state,” Rader added.
“I’m especially proud of the work that my hardworking staff and I have done to advance gun safety legislation in the aftermath of the tragic mass murder in Parkland over two years ago as well as the bill I passed this year ensuring all of Florida’s schoolchildren are put through a rigorous Holocaust education curriculum.”
In addition to those initiatives, Rader also fought several unsuccessful battles beat back by the Republican majority.
Rader consistently filed legislation to ban single-use plastic straws and plastic carryout bags. He was also behind a push to set up a top-two primary system in Florida. That system would eliminate separate party primaries and instead advance the top-two vote-getters — regardless of party — to the general election.
Rader filed his intention to run for reelection in Dec. 2016, shortly after first winning the SD 29 seat. Thus far, no Democrat has filed to challenge Rader. Republican Brian Andrew Norton, who’s running his first political campaign, filed earlier this year.
Norton has only raised $2,100 since February.
Rader’s departure creates a lane for Democratic candidates to step forward, as the district favors Democrats. Rader ran unopposed in 2016 after defeating Mindy Koch in the Democratic primary.
The incumbent seemed to have a preferred successor in mind already, as he urged Rep. Tina Polsky to jump into the contest.
“I highly encourage Rep. Polsky to run,” Rader said. “She has been an impressive and highly effective member of the State House and I feel that the State Senate along with the people of this district would be lucky to have her.”
In addition to covering Parkland, SD 29 extends northward into Palm Beach County spanning South Bay, Belle Glade and Wellington. Polsky’s House District 81 covers much of those same regions of Palm Beach.