Senate Democrats announce bus tour through frontline districts

'People understand that our freedoms are at stake.'

Florida Senate Democrats will hold a bus tour in five frontline districts. In announcing the call, the mission was clear: stopping a GOP supermajority from happening.

“This is a critical time, because if Republicans get to a supermajority, there are so many things in the rules and the procedure in the Legislature that don’t allow us to even engage procedurally,” said Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat announced as incoming Democratic Leader Pro Tempore.

Democrats made clear that efforts will go toward five races — Senate Districts 3, 10, 14, 36 and 38 — in a year when all 40 were up for election. Senate Democrats intend to defend two seats held now by Tallahassee Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley and Tampa Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz, who respectively face GOP challengers Corey Simon and Jay Collins.

But Democrats also will play offense, elevating Democratic challenger Joy Goff-Marcil against Sanford Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur and Democratic recruit Raquel Pacheco against Miami GOP Sen. Ileana Garcia. Finally, the party will rally behind Democrat Janelle Perez in the Miami battle for the open Senate District 40 seat against Alexia Calatayud.

Sen. Lauren Book, Senate Democratic Leader, said the bus tour showed both the party commitment to winning the seats and the strategy of reaching directly into oft-ignored communities to do it.

“People understand that our freedoms are at stake and that we have everything to lose,” she argued.

Senate Republicans suggested the tour wouldn’t erase the problems Democrats face with voters.

“Floridians are rejecting Senate Democrats’ support for abortion with no limits, boys in girls’ sports, and taxpayer-funded sex changes for minors all on their own,” said Erin Isaac, Florida Republican Senate Campaign Committee spokesperson. “We’ll gladly give them the stage while they barnstorm the state on their BS Express Tour.”

The Democratic leaders asserted that Republicans, in contrast, are hiding from media scrutiny and hoping to win elections through direct mail campaigns.

Pizzo took direct shots at Brodeur for vanishing from the campaign trail for the last two months.

“He’s my colleague. It’s a couple of seats to the right of me,” Pizzo said of Brodeur. “But I mean, his deputy of the Chamber was arrested and convicted, other reports are coming out, and we’re going to be getting the message out.”

Ben Paris, who worked for Brodeur at the Seminole County Chamber, was found guilty in September of a misdemeanor campaign finance violation; he was not arrested but  prosecutors filed charges and a judge sentenced him to a year of probation, community service and $42,000 worth of fines.

Goff-Marcil said she feels confident bad news will weigh down Brodeur’s chances, despite a cash advantage the incumbent holds. She specifically cited the “ghost candidate” scandal, where an independent ran in 2020 apparently to siphon votes away from Brodeur’s Democratic opponent and make way for his narrow victory.

“I am running for clean drinking water for future generations, for protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. I’m running to fully fund public education and invest in teachers and for election integrity,” Goff-Marcil said. “And as we all know, that was a big issue in this race two years ago. It’s still being investigated.”

Pizzo said he’s campaigned with Goff-Marcil in areas newly drawn into the district like Goldsboro, where he doubts Brodeur had bothered to campaign. Similarly, Book said she has visited parts of North Florida with Ausley that often get ignored, and business owners have been eager to hear the message.

Ausley said the bus tour gives a chance to step up that presence. “We’ve been hard at work crisscrossing the district listening to voters and hearing about the challenges that voters are facing. And I’m excited to share the 13 counties of Senate District 3 with my colleagues.”

In South Florida, candidates described increasingly bitter campaigns, but also a willingness to fight back in favor of Democratic values. Perez said Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade will see through false accusations that Democrats support socialism.

“The Republican Party, they are the party of lying, cheating and stealing,” she argued. “For us, I can say that I have roundly ran an honest campaign based on facts.”

Pacheco also faces an opponent who benefited from a prop candidate in 2020, and one who believes being gay or transgender is “not permanent.”

“It’s time to get back on track and get this Legislature focused on the issues that really matter to voters: cost of living, insurance costs, the housing crisis,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Focusing on those issues, Book said, will guarantee Democrat successes in November, despite polls increasingly showing this as a Republican-leaning year.

“Ileana Garcia thinks being gay is temporary,” Book said. “Her job is temporary, and Raquel is going to make sure that’s the case.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Tom

    October 24, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    That’s why I’m voting for VAL DEMINGS. Rubio lost the debate therefore he lost my vote.

  • David In Shoreline

    October 24, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    Democrats sure like bus tours. How many of them have been successful?

Comments are closed.


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