In July Gov. Ron DeSantis scheduled special elections to fill two vacant House seats, one in Miami-Dade County and the other in the Orlando area.

House District 35 opened when former Rep. Fred Hawkins, R-St. Cloud was named president of South Florida State College.  The primary is scheduled for Nov. 7 and the general election on Jan. 16.

Republican Erika Booth, an Osceola County School Board member, became the first candidate to enter the race formally. Ms. Booth has the endorsement of the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee. Two others have thrown their hats in, Scott Alan Moore and Ken Davenport.

On the Democratic party side, Marucci Guzmán, executive director of Latino Leadership, has recently joined the field. Rishi Bagga, the Democrat Hawkins defeated in November, has filed for the seat, as well as Tom Keen, who narrowly lost in the 2022 Democratic Primary.

This is a swing seat, with Democrats having the opportunity to begin to cut away at the House Republican supermajority.  While Hawkins easily won reelection in 2022, the district is closely split among registered voters. As of book closing for the 2022 elections, the district had 40,746 non-affiliated party voters, compared to 40,464 registered Democrats and 37,534 Republicans.  And the 2020 presidential election President Biden received 52% of the vote within the district. However, a cash advantage and special election turnout may keep this seat red.

The other special election will be held in Miami-Dade’s House District 118, which opened in June when DeSantis appointed former Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, a Republican, to serve as Miami-Dade clerk of court and comptroller. That primary will be held on Oct. 3 and the general election on Dec. 5.

This is a heavily Republican seat, with only fellow Republicans thus far running to replace Fernandez-Barquin: Miami Beach firefighter Christian Chavez, personal injury lawyer Mike Redondo and Ernie Thomas, a former appointed member of the Miami-Dade Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust and Miami-Dade Planning Advisory Board. Redondo earned the full backing and endorsement from incoming Speaker, Danny Perez.

The House is scheduled to start holding committee meetings during the week of Sept. 18 in advance of the 2024 legislative session, which starts Jan. 9. With these special elections, the Florida House will be back to a full 120 members within the early weeks of session.

The FRVTA PAC provides for the ability to get to know the candidates, assess the races and then make recommendations.  Your continued assistance of the FRVTA PAC allows the Association to get involved in these critical special elections and build relationships and identify champions early on. Thank you again for your participation.