Florida Democrats are celebrating another political victory that they believe is a precursor of the so-called “blue wave” that is expected in this fall’s midterm elections.
“Let the Blue Wave Continue!” proclaimed Florida’s Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo following Javier Fernandez’s victory in Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacant House District 114 seat..
Fernandez won by 4 percent over Republican over Republican Andrew Vargas despite the fact that Vargas outspent his opponent in a race for a swing-district in which Republican voters outnumber Democrats by about 1 percent. It was the fourth bellwether election that Democrats have captured in Florida since 2016. They won two other legislative seats and the mayor’s post in St. Petersburg.
“Tonight’s special election victory is the latest of a string of special election victories for Florida Democrats which shows us that after nearly 20 years of failed Republican leadership – people are ready for change,” Rizzo said in a written statement Tuesday evening.
The District 114 seat in Miami-Dade County was left vacant after former representative Daisy Baez, a Democrat, stepped down after admitting that she lied about her address on her voter registration in order to make it appear that she lived in the district.
But the news wasn’t all bad for the GOP. In another special election to fill the vacant District 39 seat Republican Josie Tomkow, a 23-year-old recent University of Florida graduate, defeated 64-year-old Ricky Shirah. Tomkow received nearly 60 percent of the vote, compared to just over 40 percent for Sirah.
The district, which includes parts of Polk and Osceola counties, is considered to be a GOP stronghold and Democrats didn’t put a lot of resources into that contest.
Tomkow will succeed Neil Combee who left office after being appointed state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. At 23, she will be one of the youngest members in Florida House history.
Despite the Democrats recent wins, the GOP still maintains a dominance in the Florida Legislature that it isn’t likely to lose anytime soon. The Republicans have a firm grasp of the House holding a current 76-41 margin and a 24-16 advantage in the Senate. Democrats need to flip five Senate seats to regain control of the upper chamber. Their goal is to do just that by the 2020 election.