Florida Democratic Party backs Carlos Guillermo Smith in Senate District 17 race

by | Jan 25, 2024



The Florida Democratic Party has endorsed former state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith for state Senate District 17.


The Florida Democratic Party announced on Thursday that it is formally endorsing former state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith in his bid for state Senate.

Smith, who announced his candidacy in April, is aiming to succeed term-limited Sen. Linda Stewart in the left-leaning Senate District 17, which encompasses areas of Orlando.

“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,” the party wrote on X.

Through his tenure in the House, Smith positioned himself as one of the most progressive lawmakers in Tallahassee, serving as the first openly LGBTQ+ Latino member of the legislature. He served as a primary adversary to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill, which detractors like Smith helped prescribe the moniker ‘Don’t Say Gay’ to.

“Honored to have the endorsement of [The Florida Democratic Party] to be the next Senator for FL SD-17!” Said Smith. “I’m running to make Florida affordable again, to solve real problems, and to restore freedom and equality for all Floridians.”

In 2016, Smith first won election to the House in District 49 with 69 percent of the vote, defeating no-party affiliation candidate Shea Silverman, who garnered 31 percent. Smith had no Republican opponent. In his 2018 re-election campaign, Smith received 64 percent of the vote, beating Republican challenger Ben Griffin by nearly double the vote share.

During the 2022 midterm elections, Smith lost his re-election race to Susan Plasencia, accruing approximately 48 percent of the vote, despite considerably out-fundraising the field of candidates.

Smith has been a prominent voice in advocating for gun control measures in the wake of several mass shootings, including the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting and the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. During his time in office, Smith proposed legislation aimed to ban the sale, transfer, and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, arguing that access to these weapons poses a public health risk and necessitates restrictions to protect citizens from gun violence, but found little success in its passage.

Smith also proposed changes to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program and has advocated for the medical and recreational use of cannabis. His “Restore Our Bright Futures Act” measure aimed to expand the scholarship and provide a textbook stipend, which also failed to pass, though some of its provisions were included in the 2017-2018 budget.

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