10 Democratic candidates headed back to Capitol after receiving no opponents

Tallahassee, FL, USA - February 11, 2022: Florida State Capitol
1 Senate candidate, Carlos Guillermo Smith, and 9 Democratic House incumbents will assume office after the November elections.

The qualifying period ended at noon Friday, leaving 10 candidates — all Democrats — without opponents. That means all of those Democrats will automatically assume office after the November elections.

Just one candidate in the Senate, Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former House member from Orlando, qualified without opposition Friday. He’s running in Senate District 17, which covers eastern Orange County, and will replace Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat who is term-limited and running for the Orange County Commission.

Earlier in the week, Mack Bernard, a former Democratic House member from West Palm Beach, also won a seat without an election. He was the only candidate to qualify to replace Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, who resigned to run for a Palm Beach County Commission seat, in District 24. Qualifying for that Special Election ended Tuesday.

Senate races are for four-year terms, with the exception of redistricting years. Only half of the 40 seats are up for election this year, leaving 19 active Senate races for the election cycle.

In the House, nine Democratic incumbents will be ushered to their seats in the Capitol after the General Election.

Reps. Hillary Cassel of Dania Beach, Dan Daley of Coral Springs, Lisa Dunkley of Sunrise, Jervonte Edmonds of West Palm Beach, Yvonne Hinson of Gainesville, Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland, Dotie Joseph of North Miami, Felicia Robinson of Miami Gardens and Kelly Skidmore of Boca Raton will all keep their seats.

Democrats have fielded candidates in all legislative seats up for election, but face an uphill battle to tilt the balance of power in Tallahassee.

Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers, outnumbering Democrats 28-12 in the Senate and 84-36 in the House. Democrats would need to flip two seats in the Senate and five seats in the House to reduce the GOP to simple majority status in each chamber.

Under Florida law, winners of legislative elections take office shortly after the election is over, so the candidates without opponents will take office soon after the ballots are counted Nov. 5.

Gray Rohrer

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