Tom Keen expects to join Legislature before week’s end

Tom Keen
The Orlando Democrat won a critical Special Election on Tuesday.

Rep.-elect Tom Keen will be formally sworn in to the House by the end of the week.

The Orlando Democrat, who won a Special Election in House District 35, said he plans to go to Tallahassee on Friday.

“I think we’ll have a swearing in and then have the ceremonial swearing in next Tuesday,” Keen said at a press conference.

House Speaker Paul Renner on the first day of the Legislative Session already said he intended to swear in the new HD 35 Representative as soon as votes were counted.

Of course, Keen will arrive in a Legislature where Republicans hold a supermajority in the House and Senate. He fills a seat last represented by Rep. Fred Hawkins, a St. Cloud Republican, who left his House seat in June to take a job as President of South Florida State College.

The Tuesday flip was celebrated as momentous by Florida Democrats.

“This represents Democrats first flip of this year, and the second major loss of the week for (Gov.) Ron DeSantis showing how far he has actually fallen both nationally and here in our state,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried.

But Keen’s arrival grows the Democratic caucus in the House to just 35 members, compared to the 84-member Republican majority.

Keen credited his victory in part to winning support from many disaffected Republican and independent voters. He knows that to accomplish anything in his first Legislative Session, he will need to work in a bipartisan way.

“The main thing again, is just to reach across the aisle, and see if we can get these insurance prices slowed down and start making some progress to solve it,” Keen said.

“Again, that is a nonpartisan issue. And I welcome my new colleagues from across the aisle to come together to solve this crisis for all Floridians.”

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].


One comment

  • Phil Morton

    January 17, 2024 at 6:20 pm

    I think that makes 36 Democrats vs 84 Republicans. Not a big difference but you should correct the article.

Comments are closed.


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