Lauren Book named Democratic Leader-designate, replacing Perry Thurston

Lauren Book
Thurston's decision to run for Congress means he'll be giving up his Leader-designate role.

Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, has been selected to lead Senate Democrats in 2022-24 after previous Leader-designate Perry Thurston announced a congressional run earlier this week.

Under current law, Thurston’s decision means he’ll have to give up his Senate District 33 seat and with it, the chance to serve as Senate Democratic Leader next term. After Thurston’s decision, Senate Democrats met this week and landed on Book to serve in the position. She’ll follow current Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer in the role.

“I am honored and humbled by the vote of confidence from my colleagues to lead our Caucus. For Senate Democrats to effect real and meaningful change without leaving anything on the table, we must fight for our strongly-held Democratic values that benefit everyday people,” Book said in a Wednesday statement confirming the move.

“I believe that through effective consensus building, Senate Democrats can be powerfully pragmatic without compromising our principles, and there is no doubt the people of Florida deserve that much from their elected leaders.”

The move has implications beyond Senate Democratic leadership. The selection could also signal Book’s intentions in 2022. She has been weighing a run for Chief Financial Officer in 2022, amassing impressive fundraising totals as she does so. But, like Thurston, if Book decides to seek another office, that would mean she would have to give up her Senate seat.

Book has served in the Senate since winning the Senate District 32 seat in 2016 after redistricting. She won reelection in 2018 and can run for a second full term in 2022. She would be the favorite in a hypothetical reelection matchup. She has yet to court an opponent in either her 2016 or 2018 runs. Diana Bivona Belviso has filed to run as a Republican in the left-leaning district.

Should Book stick with the Senate gig, she would help make history in the Senate. With Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo in line to become the Senate President in 2022, a Passidomo-Book pairing would mark the first time ever that two women have served in those respective roles.

The Plantation Democrat has been an advocate for children — particularly in the area of sexual abuse — even before her time in the Legislature. Book, a survivor of child sexual abuse herself, founded Lauren’s Kids to help provide resources to other abuse survivors.

She has continued that work in the Senate, backing multiple bills aimed at protecting sexual assault victims.

Book previously served as a 2016-18 Senate Democratic Leader Pro Tempore. This term, she is serving as a Democratic Minority Whip.

Book currently chairs the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, making her one of just a few Democrats leading committees in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

After Wednesday’s announcement, Book received congratulations from Democratic lawmakers, including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and multiple Senators.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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