Republicans have filed for two vacant seats in Senate District 33 and House District 88, triggering March 8 Special General Elections, scheduled three days before the upcoming Session ends.
The filings mean the two majority Black, Democratic districts will be without representation for the upcoming Session.
The news infuriated Don Mizell, who sued Gov. Ron DeSantis for not calling an election for months. It took 93 days — 12 days after Mizell filed suit — for DeSantis to announce the schedule for a Special Election to replace the lawmakers who resigned.
Rep. Bobby DeBose also resigned to run for the congressional seat, and, like his colleagues, was defeated by Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in the Democratic Special Primary for CD 20 Nov. 2. As no Republican has filed for DuBose’s seat, the winner in the race will be chosen to represent House District 94 on the day of the Democratic Special Primary Jan. 11.
“I think it’s despicable, but not surprising,” said Mizell, a lawyer, on the prospect of a Special General Election on March 8 that effectively leaves 156,000 Palm Beach County residents without a Representative and 465,000 Broward County residents without a Senator.
“It’s how the Republicans play ball. They have the right, but that doesn’t make it right,” Mizell continued.
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ spokeswoman, would not offer a reason for the delay. For 65 vacancies arising between 1999 and 2020, it took an average of 7.6 days for the Governor to call a Special Election, according to Mizell’s suit.
“All I know is that it is completely in line with Florida law,” she texted Florida Politics.
Mizell says he has a good idea what the reason is.
“It’s a more circuitous route to the same outcome, which is essentially to deprive the voters of the district the value of their vote in the upcoming Session, in which a lot of important legislation will be considered.”
Chief among them: Redistricting representative districts according to the 2020 Census, Mizell said.
Mizell said he doesn’t believe a Republican has a chance of winning in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. But Joseph Carter, who qualified as a Republican to run for Thurston’s Senate seat, said he is sincere. He has never run for office before.
“A lot of people know me already,” said the former Broward County public school teacher who is currently unemployed. He said he grew up in the district and named conditions in schools his chief motivation for running.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to help people in this community,” Carter said. “I’m not one of those people that’s more loyal to party than I would be to my constituents.”
He will face either Terry Ann Williams Edden or Rosalind Osgood, depending on who wins the Democratic Special Primary.
Guarina Torres of Delray Beach is the Republican running for Hardy’s seat in Palm Beach County. She will face either Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds or Clarence “Chief” Williams in the Special General Election, depending on who wins the Democratic Primary.
“Ms. Torres is a passionate, deeply religious, conservative, a Latina mother of four wonderful adult children, and has an impressive resume as both an educator in the Palm Beach County school system and as a small business owner,” according to a news release her campaign manager released. She ran for House District 89 in 1996 as a Democrat, but said she changed her registration to Republican.
“I don’t think anyone can sit on the sidelines anymore especially when the country is headed the wrong way,” Torres said, explaining why she is running for office. “I strongly support DeSantis’ policies. We are one of the few states that is doing what needs to be done to protect not only Floridians, but the whole country.”