‘We need serious leadership’: 4 former state officials endorse Joe Saunders for HD 106
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/2/22-Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, left, is joined by Joe Saunders of Equality Florida, Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates and Mutaqee Akbar, President of the Tallahassee NAACP Branch, during a news conference against the bills moving through the Legislature that they say are attacking individual freedoms, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

They add to a growing swell of Democratic leaders getting behind Saunders’ campaign.

Former Rep. Joe Saunders’ campaign for House District 106 now has the backing of two past Florida Cabinet members and a pair of former lawmakers who previously served the district.

They include former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, former House Speaker Pro Tempore Elaine Bloom and former Sen. Ron Silver, the latter two of whom served parts of HD 106 while in office.

All are Democrats.

Sink, a past gubernatorial candidate who served as CFO under former Gov. Charlie Crist from 2007-2011, said Saunders “can build and grow a bipartisan consensus because he’s done it before.”

“For years I’ve watched Joe grow as a leader and advocate tackling the issues our communities face,” she said in a statement. “We need serious leadership ready to take on the growing housing and property insurance crisis.”

Castor, who served as an elected Education Commissioner from 1994-1999, before the position became appointed, cited Saunders’ support for more inclusive, better funded schools as key to earning her endorsement.

“Education is the ultimate equalizer, and our public schools are a precious resource that must be defended,” she said in a statement. “Both as a legislator and advocate, Joe Saunders has been one of Florida’s sharpest voices calling for more funding, an end to the politicization of our classrooms, and fighting for better pay and working conditions for our teachers.”

Bloom, who has worked for nearly nine years as President of Plaza Health Network in Miami Beach, called Saunders “the right choice to continue the legacy of effective leadership” in Miami-Dade County.

Silver pointed to Saunders’ “record of building bipartisan coalitions that get things done and improve people’s lives.”

Saunders made history in 2012 as one of the first openly gay members of the Legislature. He served one two-year term.

For the past decade, he’s worked as the political director for Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

Since launching a challenge in HD 106 against freshman Republican Rep. Fabián Basabe in May, Saunders has secured endorsements from five current and former members of Congress, nine state lawmakers, former Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and the Florida Leadership Council, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, and SAVE Action PAC.

HD 106 covers a northeastern portion of Miami-Dade, including 10 coastal municipalities from Fisher Island and South Beach to Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach. It is one of the most affluent districts in the state and among the most susceptible to the oceanic effects of climate change.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5. So far, only Basabe and Saunders are running for the HD 106 seat.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • rbruce

    January 22, 2024 at 10:14 am

    Five former lawmakers are making an endorsement. Thing about it.

Comments are closed.


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