Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book is endorsing Democratic candidate Janelle Perez in the Senate District 37 race, all but locking in Perez as Democrats’ preferred candidate in the contest.
“When my colleagues in the Florida Senate elected me as their Democratic Leader, I promised that I would fight to expand our caucus with intelligent, pragmatic, and diverse candidates,” Book said in a written statement Friday announcing the endorsement.
“This election is pivotal in our efforts to bring Democratic values — human values, really — back to the state of Florida. We cannot allow Republicans’ failed leadership to continue hurting working families, putting children in danger, and stifling our economy.”
Book took over as Senate Democratic Leader after the Democratic caucus grew frustrated with Sen. Gary Farmer’s leadership. The caucus ousted Farmer and replaced him with Book just prior to the end of the 2021 Legislative Session.
Book is looking to turn around Democrats’ fortunes after they lost several Senate races last cycle, which were expected to be competitive. In addition to coming up empty in their attempts to flip a district or two blue, Democrats lost in SD 37 by just 32 votes.
A cloud has been cast over that result, as investigators are accusing former GOP Sen. Frank Artiles of illegally funding a spoiler candidate who siphoned votes away from former Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez.
Nevertheless, Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia retains the seat, making it a target for Democrats next year. Earlier this week, Perez abandoned plans to run for Congress and instead swapped to the SD 27 contest. Now, she’s secured the endorsement of the Senate Democratic Leader, putting her in position as the favorite for the Democratic nomination.
“I am truly honored and excited to have the support of Leader Book in my campaign for the state Senate,” Perez said Friday.
“There is great energy and excitement early on because we are committed to flip this seat and represent the voters of District 37 in the Florida Senate with passion, and integrity. We will have a strong campaign with the resources to speak directly with voters on why we need to fight for our freedoms and protect our great democracy.”
Perez remains the only Democrat who has announced a bid for the seat. That may well remain true after Book’s endorsement, which is likely to trigger similar support from other Democratic elected officials.