Florida Democratic Party endorses Carlos Guillermo Smith in SD 17

Guillermo Smith, Carlos
He's the only candidate running, and the announcement signals that leaders like it that way.

The Florida Democratic Party is formally backing Carlos Guillermo Smith for an open Senate seat in Central Florida.

“The Florida Democratic Party is proud to endorse Carlos Guillermo Smith for State Senate District 17,” reads a post from the state party’s official account on Facebook.

“A three-time elected member of the Florida House and civil rights leader, Carlos Guillermo Smith is a proven champion of freedom and equality for all Floridians.”

Smith, an Orlando Democrat, remains the only candidate filed for the seat to date. Still, the party backing demonstrates strong institutional support months ahead of the qualification deadline at noon on June 14.

The candidate embraced the party support.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Florida Democratic Party to be the next Senator for FL SD-17,” Smith told Florida Politics. “Our campaign is about making Florida affordable again, solving real problems, and restoring FREEDOM and EQUALITY for all Floridians! Together we can take our state back from the extremists and rebuild towards a better future.”

The first Latino LGBTQ lawmaker elected to the Legislature, the three-term state Representative lost his last bid for re-election in 2022 to Susan Plascencia, an Orlando Republican.

But that was a battleground House seat freshly redrawn after the decennial redistricting process. SD 17 is larger but very different political terrain.

State Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, won re-election with 56% of the vote in 2022. She can’t run again thanks to term limits. The same election, Democratic Governor nominee Charlie Crist and U.S. Senate nominee Val Demings won upward of 52% of the vote in the district even as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won re-election statewide by double-digit margins.

That means the Democratic nominee in the district will most likely win the seat in November. The support of the party signals that leaders don’t want to waste resources on a competitive Primary there.

Regardless, anyone entering the race now would face a substantial war chest already amassed by Smith. Over the course of 2023, he raised more than $243,000 for the race, and has already spent more than $140,000 in a district where he starts out with name recognition.

He also chairs the political committee Floridians For Equality, which has nearly $114,000 in cash on hand, including more than $49,000 raised in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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].


  • Tough Luck

    January 25, 2024 at 2:37 pm

    What a disaster for that district. It is in the GOP’s best interest to have someone so ineffective and alienating to most people outside of his tribal social media fueled bubble in a safe Dem seat. But the people of the district will suffer as a result. Resources not coming to the district with leadership ineffective and sidelined in the legislative process because of their public and social media taunting.

    • Flash Light

      January 26, 2024 at 9:35 pm


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