Democrats Surprisingly Flipped State House Seat in DeSantis’ Florida

In the special election, Florida Democrats flipped a state House seat after Tom Keen beat his Republican challenger, Erika Booth. Representative Maxwell Frost saw this as a sign that “people shouldn’t give up on Florida.”

Frost and Keen on MSNBC 

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Representative of Florida’s 10th congressional district Maxwell Frost and Keen, a Navy veteran, appeared on MSNBC and talked to Lawrence O’Donnell about the race for Florida. Frost said that Keen focused on two things: abortion rights and the “housing affordability crisis.” While Frost said candidates tend to talk about everything during campaigns, Keen “really focused on the things that people were really thinking about.” 

Taking It Statewide

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Frost said that the reasons Keen won will be taken statewide, and they will be working to bring back Florida. The host asked Keen what made him think he could flip the seat. Keen shared, “I had some name recognition, and quite frankly, the issues we ran on were the ones that resonated.”

First Stop: Property Insurance 

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The newly elected Democrat said he would focus on property insurance since he is on the Banking and Insurance Subcommittee. As for reproductive rights, the next stop will be the Florida Supreme Court. 

Lesson From Florida 

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Frost shared, “There are two huge takeaways. Number one is the field program.” He said the second was Keen’s message: “When we hone in on what the people care about and what the people are thinking about at that moment, that’s what drives people to vote.” He added, “People shouldn’t forget, and people shouldn’t give up on Florida.”

Inside the Special Election 

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The special election was prompted after now-former GOP representative Fred Hawkins resigned to teach at a state college. This left state House 35th District, which includes Orange and Osceola counties, with another race, and Keen won with 51.3 percent, and 65 and 70 percent were independent voters.

Election Analyst Weighs In 

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Democratic elections analyst Matt Isbell told the Orlando Sentinel, “What clinched the win for Democrats was this massive margin with [nonpartisan voters] and perhaps some Republican moderates, as well.” He added this should be concerning for Republicans, as it “indicates a voter anger that maybe they have not understood.”

Booth Fought “wokeness”

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The GOP candidate, a teacher from Central Florida, had on her website messages like “Fight Joe Biden’s Woke Agenda.” The post read, in part, “Sleepy Joe’s ineptness knows no bounds. From crippling America’s economy to pushing trans-education in our public schools, his agenda must be stopped.” 

“Laws and borders”

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Booth also promoted “protecting children from indoctrination” and “our God-given rights as enshrined in the Constitution.” It also said, “Erika will fight side-by-side with Governor DeSantis and President Trump to end the disastrous Biden Presidency.” 

Keen’s Platform 

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Keen’s platform included affordable housing, access to reproductive healthcare, and defending free speech, including opposing book bans in schools. 

Celebrating Keen’s Victory 

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State House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell told the Sentinel, “Florida is worth fighting for,” and added on X, “With hard work and coordination, FL Dems can do great things.”

The Florida Democratic Party Also Applauded

X

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On X, the Florida Democratic Party wrote, “Tonight, we flipped a seat in the Florida House of Representatives, electing veteran Tom Keen. It’s the *first* Democratic flip of the year and the second major loss for Ron DeSantis this week. Don’t count Florida out.”

“An earthquake”

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Heather Williams, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), called Keen’s victory “an earthquake” and said it showed “the strength of legislative Democrats as we head into this critical election year.”

Blow to DeSantis’ GOP 

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Williams’ statement added, “Rep-elect Keen’s victory delivers a blow to Florida Republicans — this was a Republican seat that DeSantis won in 2022, and they should’ve had it in the bag. This victory puts Republicans across the country on notice that Democrats have undeniable momentum in 2024.” 

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