In recent years, Florida House District 63 has become that rarity in state politics, a full-fledged swing district in Hillsborough County.
Republican Shawn Harrison defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Danish there last November, a reversal of the 2010 contest when Danish bested the then-GOP incumbent. Harrison originally won the seat in 2010 over Democrat Russ Paterson.
Now here comes Democrat Mike Reedy into the mix. A Tampa native and full-time organizer for the LGBT activist group Equalty Florida, Reedy says that after a history of civic involvement at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa’s Enterprise Zone Development Agency, and the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, he’s ready to run for office.
“There’s 98,000 registered voters, and 22 months isn’t even long enough to be able to reach as many of them as possible,” the 24-year-old says when asked about his early entry into a race that won’t take place until the fall of 2016. “One of my biggest parts of my plan is to listen, learn and lead, and the only way that’s going to happen is to allow there to be enough time for conversation.”
Reedy may not be the only Democrat to enter the race to face Harrison next year, something he acknowledges when he says that his name recognition currently ranks low compared to Mark Danish, who represented the district 2012-2014 before losing last year (Florida Politics reached out to Danish today, asking if he would run for the office as well. He has not replied yet).
The first person in his family to attend college (he graduated from USF), Reedy says he couldn’t have done it without Bright Futures, the state’s lottery-funded college scholarship program. That program has changed its focus in recent years, as it has raised required test scores and become much more exclusive. He says he never would have been able to attend USF it it weren’t for arts eduction in high school (he attended Blake) and had a Bright Futures scholarship.
In regards to the issue with school vouchers, he says they’re taking away resources from the state’s public schools, and he doesn’t support private for profit charter schools.
Earlier this week House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said, “We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion,” calling Medicaid “a broken system.”
That doesn’t go down well with most Democrats in Florida. Count Reedy as one of them.
“To use ideology at the expense of Floridians is unacceptable, period,” he says. “If there is a business approach to it, if you hear from these people that are able to provide care, they’re saying it’s the smart thing to do for their business model.”
Although he’s a licensed realtor, Reedy has parlayed his previous role as a consultant to Equality Florida into a full time position as a state organizer, where he’s intensely focused on working with businesses to support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. Versions of that bill have languished in the Legislature for nearly a decade. Recently, Representative Holly Raschein (R- Key Largo) and Democratic Whip Senator Joseph Abruzzo (D- Boynton Beach) filed bills in the House and Senate, respectively that would add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to current state statutes prohibiting discrimination.
HD 63 encompasses Carrollwood, Lake Magdalene, New Tampa, North Tampa, Tampa Palms, and the USF area.
Reedy has released a video on YouTube to announce his candidacy.