With early voting underway in Central Florida, House Democrats are making a public push to get out the vote.
Rep. Fentrice Driskell, Democratic Leader-designate, held a press event outside the Orange County Supervisor of Elections alongside incumbents and Democratic candidates alike. She said it will be critical when the General Election wraps in two weeks that the Democratic caucus be at least at the same size that exists today.
“Our focus has remained the same. We are really pushing to maintain the margins that we have in the Florida House right now,” the Tampa Democrat said. “We have 42 Democrats to 78 Republicans.”
Several seats in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties remain in play weeks out from the election, and Republicans hold significant cash advantages in most of them, even though Democrat Joe Biden outperformed Republican Donald Trump in the area during the 2020 election. But Driskell maintains confidence in the slate of candidates running for the blue team.
“You can watch the fundraising numbers, just like we do, and the media spend and everything. We knew that we were going to get outgunned and we were going to be outspent,” Driskell said. “That’s why we’ve maintained a strong, very tight focus, so that we could concentrate our firepower on the seats that we need to protect the most.”
She shared a podium with incumbent Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, Orlando Democrats running in House Districts 42 and 37 respectively. Also at the mic were Allie Braswell, Sarah Henry and Tiffany Hughes, the Democrats running in House Districts 45, 38 and 39.
Eskamani, who faces Republican challenger Bonnie Jackson, said she feels confident in her own chances and that of the entire Central Florida slate.
“These are some really awesome candidates I’m excited for, and I definitely want to help them get to that finish line. I want to get back to Tallahassee with a team of Democrats that are people-centered and just as passionate about service as I am.”
Of note, the Republican Party of Florida and its respective campaign arm for House races have spent money in every competitive contest in the region. The result has been a deluge of broadcast advertising and glossy mailers slamming Democratic candidates.
But Henry expressed confidence Democrats will cut through the noise by reaching out to voters face-to-face.
“I think making sure the voters have the opportunity to meet us is directly countering that messaging,” said Henry, who is challenging GOP Rep. David Smith.
Hughes, who faces Republican Douglas Bankson for an open seat, said interfacing with voters will also turn them into surrogates of sorts.
“I like to say voters are going to be your best advocates,” she said. “They’re going to be the voice in the community. I like to say, ‘Tell someone to tell someone about me and about our campaign.’ The voters are going to be the people at the polls deciding who they want to represent them.”