House minority leader Fentrice Driskell forgoes U.S. Senate run, will seek stateside re-election

by | Aug 21, 2023

  • Fentrice Driskell, the Florida Democrat’s House Minority Leader, has decided against a run for Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate seat. Instead, she will seek re-election in the House.
  • Driskell’s decision is influenced by her commitment to continuing her work as Minority Leader in the Florida House, where she has been a vocal critic of Gov. Ron DeSantis on issues like reproductive rights and education policy.
  • With Driskell opting out, former federal lawmaker Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is likely to be the main Democratic challenger to the incumbent, as suggested by efforts from Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials to persuade her to run.

House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell stated on Monday that she is refraining from running for a seat in U.S. Senate during the current election cycle. Instead, she has chosen to run for re-election in the Florida House.

Driskell was considering the possibility of challenging the incumbent U.S. Senator Rick Scott, who is highly favored to win another term, however, she pointed to ongoing legislative responsibilities in Florida as the reason behind her choice.

“After giving it a lot of thought, I have realized that my work in the Florida House is not done yet,” she said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. And when DeSantis loses the GOP primary and returns his attention to focus where he can do more damage, we need to be ready. As Minority Leader, I will continue to lead in this fight.”

As House Minority Leader, Driskell has served as one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ staunchest critics, regularly offering pushback on hot-button issues like reproductive rights and education policy. If re-elected, the Hillsborough County lawmaker will enter her fourth term in Tallahassee.

Given Driskell’s commitment to the Florida House of Representatives, it appears increasingly likely that former federal lawmaker Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will stand as the Democratic Party’s biggest challenge to Scott.

\While she has yet to formally announce her candidacy, Politico reported last month that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and various Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials have made attempts to persuade Mucarsel-Powell to join the race.

Elsewhere, former Congressional candidate Phil Ehr in July announced his campaign to challenge Scott’s seat. Ehr, who unsuccessfully ran against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in 2020, released a launch advertisement that saw him attack Scott’s policy proposals, including an attempt to slash Medicare and Social Security funding.

“I’ve spent my life on the front lines fighting for American values and protecting our nation against extremism, and I’m running for Senate against Rick Scott to fulfill that same mission,” said Ehr in a prepared statement. “Extreme politicians like Rick Scott only care about themselves and their ultra-rich donors and friends, not middle-class Floridians, which is why Scott tried to destroy bedrock programs like Social Security and Medicare that millions of Floridians rely on.”

The ad also features U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Gaetz through intermittent flashing appearances, with Ehr referring to the group as an “axis of lies.”

Last month, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson filed paperwork to join the Senate race but has yet to formally announce a campaign.

Scott, a two-term Florida governor, narrowly defeated Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson in the 2018 Senate election, garnering approximately 10,000 more votes than the former astronaut and marked the first time since the Reconstruction era that Republicans held both Senate seats in Florida.


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