While top Senate Democrats hit the campaign trail on three axles to support Sen. Loranne Ausley, Senate Republicans warned North Florida voters, “don’t be fooled” by the “B.S. Express.”
In an ad unveiled Wednesday, the day Democrats launched their five-day bus tour to keep Ausley in the Florida Senate, Republicans are labeling Ausley an extremist as they hope to push former Florida State University football star Corey Simon to the end zone.
The ad disputes her claim that she is bipartisan by highlighting her support for three key issues that have become part of the nation’s culture war.
The ad mocks her with a clip of her protesting the legislation limiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Additionally, the ad claims she supports taxpayer-funded sex-change operations for minors and “transgender men” competing in women’s sports.
“We need more common sense and less nonsense from radicals like Loranne Ausley,” according to the ad.
The digital ad comes from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, run by outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson and expected Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
Senate Democrats, under Leader Lauren Book and incoming President Pro Tempore Jason Pizzo, launched the bus tour to support their incumbents and new candidates in five “frontline” races if Democrats hope to deny Republicans three-fifths or two-thirds majorities in the upper chamber.
As Democrats introduce themselves in Ausley’s Senate District 3 in North Florida, Pizzo expects to “dispel some crazy rumors.”
“When we hit the road, we talk about their property insurance, their utilities, their access to data and to education dollars and resources. (Republicans) want to talk about transgender athletes and ‘woke’ and (critical race theory) and all this other stuff that has nothing to do primarily with 21 million 800 thousand Floridians’ families and what they worry about at the end of each month,” Pizzo said.
“When the mail comes in, it’s not about any of those issues.”
The Senate Victory bus tour begins in Ausley’s district in part because it covers the State Capitol in Tallahassee. But Ausley is also likely the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the Senate.
With the district’s expansion into a total of 13 counties, geographically the largest in the state, it grew from a seat that voted for President Joe Biden by 9 percentage points in 2020 into one he would have carried by only 3 points. That, plus Ausley’s underperformance as compared to Biden that cycle and the recent reversal of Democrats’ fortunes in the polls, puts Ausley’s seat on the line.
SD 3 covers Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties.
Simon was an All-American during FSU’s championship season in 1999. He also played in the National Football League and has since been a community volunteer and CEO of Volunteer Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is endorsing him alongside Simpson and Passidomo.
Ausley served in the House from 2000 to 2008 and from 2016 to 2020 and was elected to the Senate in 2020. Both live in Tallahassee.