Democratic Rep. Patricia Hawkins-Williams will serve her fourth term in the Legislature as Chairwoman of the Broward County delegation and Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, a newcomer to Broward County territory, will be the Vice Chairman.
The largest legislative delegation with a preponderance of Democrats met for an organizational meeting Tuesday night to choose its leadership. Members acknowledged they are facing the next two years more marginalized than ever.
Republicans last week won a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature with the upset of two incumbent Democratic Senators and two Democratic state Representatives while winning three open Senate seats and five open House seats.
It means the other team has more power over rules involving amendments, time required for a bill’s reading, debate and even the right to waive all rules.
“We are fewer in number, but we are mighty in voice,” Hawkins-Williams said, after accepting the nomination.
After last week’s election, Republican House Speaker Paul Renner hailed how voters chose to seat the largest Republican majority ever in the Florida House.
“Because they support the direction Republican leadership has taken our state,” Renner said in a prepared statement.
In Broward, both the outgoing and the incoming delegation leaders urged lawmakers to stick together and try to seek common ground.
“So this is going to be admittedly, objectively rough going for the next couple years because there is a lot of polarization,” said Pizzo, who is now representing much of the coastal areas of both Broward and Miami-Dade counties for his second term, and not just Miami-Dade as it had been.
Outgoing delegation Chairman and Democratic Rep. Mike Gottlieb called Broward County “the odd man out.”
The meeting started with a stark reminder of how much Republican rule has injected itself into the state’s most populous Democratic stronghold. Broward schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright welcomed the lawmakers to school property for the meeting. Less than 24 hours before Tuesday’s meeting in the same building, she was fired by a School Board composed of a majority of members that Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed.
“I look forward to your leadership and continuing to work with you,” Cartwright told lawmakers. Later she added, “At least for the next 60 days.”