Former Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell, whose scandal-plagued tenure culminated in a 2018 primary loss, is now seeking a Senate bid for a third straight cycle.
After losing her Senate District 38 seat in 2018 to now-Sen. Jason Pizzo, Campbell filed to run in Senate District 35 in 2020. That effort failed as well, with Campbell placing second in a six-person field. She lost handily to Shevrin Jones, however, by a margin of 43% to 16%. Jones went on to secure the seat in November.
Campbell is now looking to return to SD 38. Pizzo secured 54% in the Aug. 2018 primary to oust Campbell.
While Jones easily shook off Campbell last cycle, the 2020 campaign was filled with plenty of drama.
Campbell generated much of that spectacle. In May of 2019, Campbell advertised her appearance at a Farm Share food distribution event. The organization advertised that Campbell, a former Senator, would be appearing. But Campbell reworked the ad to connect it to her 2020 bid for SD 35. Her actions threatened to violate Farm Share’s 501(c)(3) obligations to stay out of political campaigns. Out of an abundance of caution, the group was forced to cancel the event.
Campbell also falsely stated in a South Florida Sun-Sentinel questionnaire that she had “never” been a party to a civil lawsuit. A brief court search showed at least 10 different cases where Campbell was a named party, nine of which featured Campbell being sued.
Perhaps most strangely, a robocall released just days before the Aug. 2020 primary featured clearly manipulated audio seeming to show former President Barack Obama endorsing Campbell’s bid. An Obama spokesperson called it “a fake,” though it’s not clear who was behind the fraud.
And that was just the 2020 campaign. Campbell has also been criticized for moving outside of her district. During her unsuccessful run in 2018, Pizzo accused Campbell of seeking “personal gain and graft” and engaging in “unethical practices.”
In one such criticism, Pizzo focused on Campbell’s efforts to contact a Florida Power & Light lobbyist following Hurricane Irma to help get power. Campbell referenced needing to help her “sick mom,” though Campbell’s mother had been dead for more than 20 years. The former Senator said she used the term “mom” colloquially, referring to an elderly woman living with Campbell.
It’s unclear how the decennial redistricting process will affect the SD 38 boundaries. But Campbell is seeking to take back the seat from Pizzo, as he’s rumored to be considering a gubernatorial run.