As first reported by Florida Politics, Sen. Lauren Book earned the votes needed to succeed Sen. Gary Farmer as Democratic Leader.
Good for her and good for the Senate Democrats.
Since coming to the upper chamber, few Democrats have learned to work the system as well as Book. She is smart, hard-working and very — very — strategic. Since her freshman term, she has collegially worked her way into a chairmanship each Session, while also managing to protect her left flank by voting with or by leading her party on caucus positions.
She has done this while remaining laser-focused on her legislative priorities and keeping her wits about her enough to pass bill after bill after bill — with two babies, now toddlers, in tow.
Standing in opposition to GOP initiatives with grace and sincerity, Book often challenges the opposition party without making enemies in The Process.
With all due respect (or not), this is a statement that simply cannot be said about the current Democratic leader. This Legislative Session alone, Farmer has trucked harsh tones with GOP leaders on contentious issues ranging from the now-signed protest bill (HB 1) to the now-dead transgender athletes bill (SB 2012).
“This bill is nothing more than a piece of political red meat,” Farmer said of the transgender proposal. “It’s been forced upon these chambers by the Governor. This Trumpian disciple who seeks to stamp out and thwart the voices of the people.”
But Book strikes a different tone and, as a result, Florida’s victims’ rights have been strengthened, our schools and communities are safer, our environment is better protected, and our child welfare system has been reshaped in meaningful ways.
Book has a backbone of steel and is never one to back down from a challenge — just ask former Sen. Jack Latvala. At a time when many were afraid to come forward, Book wasted no time filing a complaint against Latvala accusing him of trying to intimidate accusers — one of whom worked for Book — during the sexual harassment investigation against him that eventually led to Latvala’s resignation from the Senate.
She has also been one of the most effective fundraisers in the Senate? Somewhere, Jimmy Patronis is breathing a sigh of relief that she likely won’t be mounting a challenge against him for CFO.
In short, Book has been a tour de force. And she’s done it her way — without caving to outside pressure for what or how she “ought to” legislate.
Now Book’s signature strength, determination, and strategic prowess will be turned to help her fellow Democrats hold onto critical seats in what promises to be a chaotic and challenging post-reapportionment mid-term election. Though Florida Democrats face an uphill battle, their best chance for success undoubtedly lies with a powerhouse duo of Leader Book and FDP Chair Manny Diaz leading the charge.
And one final note: When Book becomes the Democratic leader, it will be the first time in state history where both Senate party leaders are women. Also good for Florida.
When asked, Book said her goal is to help elevate the Senate, organize the caucus to be an effective opposition voice, and find opportunities to work across the aisle and identify common ground to move an agenda that benefits all Floridians.
“There will be a time for campaigning and making our case to voters, and a time to fight vigorously for Democratic values. Then there will be a time to lay down arms and reach across the aisle to find common-ground solutions that benefit everyday people,” Book told Florida Politics.
“I believe Floridians are tired of non-stop, unproductive fighting like they see in Washington. I have a deep respect for Leader (Kathleen) Passidomo and her work to make Florida a better place for all Floridians. I know that we will work together above the fray of partisan sniping, because the people of Florida deserve that much from their elected leaders.”