As the state of Florida finds itself pushing farther to the right with each passing month, the Democratic Party is preparing to usher in a new generation of leaders to take charge. With a rapidly growing population and evolving demographics, the party recognizes the importance of cultivating a fresh cohort of politicians who can represent their values and effectively compete in a state that has traditionally been purple.
From up-and-coming stars in local government to promising newcomers on the national stage, the next wave of Democratic politicians in Florida is poised to make a significant impact, injecting new vitality and ideas into the state’s political landscape.
U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost
Frost, a Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive Democrat, compellingly prevailed in a crowded primary of former lawmakers in his November election, including Randolph Bracy, Alan Grayson, and Corrine Brown. At just 26 years old, he became the youngest member of Congress and the first Gen-Z lawmaker in Washington, bucking the proliferating trend of aging politicians.
Since he has taken to Capitol Hill, Frost has become something of a media darling. In a recent appearance on the popular late-night talk program The Daily Show, Frost described his first months as a U.S. Representative, offering a humanizing element to his position.
In terms of policy, Frost is an unabashed progressive, politically aligning with House colleagues Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rep. Cori Bush, alongside the other members of “The Squad.”
Throughout his campaign for Congress, Frost found success in resonating with a younger audience, touching on issues that Gen-Z voters place a high priority on like gun control, Medicare for all, and climate change. He also found widespread support in his advocacy of taking on entertainment companies like TicketMaster and their widely unpopular ticket scalping structure.
“I think when we show those politicians and everyone that good policy equals good politics, people will get the courage to stand up for what we need in this country,” said Frost.
Frost represents western Orange County, encompassing parts of Orlando, and appears to have the potential to become a long-serving member of Congress.
Sen. Shevrin Jones
Jones, a former state Representative turned state Senator, has quickly emerged as one of the Florida Democrats’ biggest players. A trailblazer as the state’s first Black LGBT+ lawmaker, he was once named the ‘Florida Young Democrat of the Year,’ a member of the ‘Top 40 Under 40 Most Powerful in South Florida,’ and served on President Joe Biden’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Positioning himself as one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ most outspoken opponents, Jones has been outspoken in recent months regarding the Florida Department of Education’s decision to reject College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course in high schools across the state.
“I think Florida is doing its absolute best to tilt the scale to shut down discussions about race, to shut down discussions about slavery, and anything to do with a challenge to the idea that racism is still prevalent in this country,” Jones told The Capitolist last month.
Jones has served in Tallahassee in varying capacities since 2012 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. Once term-limited, he successfully ran for a state Senate seat in 2020.
Through his tenure in the state’s Capitol, Jones has passed meaningful bipartisan legislation including measures to reduce criminal penalties for possession of specified amounts of cannabis, require state correctional facilities to provide incarcerated women with healthcare and hygiene products, and implement financial literacy instruction in Florida schools.
At just 39 years old, Jones has a long future ahead of him in politics. While nothing concrete has been discussed, sources indicate that Jones is an individual that could one day serve as a U.S. Senator or as Governor of Florida.
Rep. Anna Eskamani
Serving in the Florida House of Representatives since 2018, Eskamani has quickly established herself as a rising star within the state party. Outspoken on Twitter, she commonly finds herself at the forefront of critical discussions involving human rights and racial justice.
In her initial campaign to become a representative, Eskamani picked up wide-ranging and prominent endorsements from politicians and organizations including Former President Barack Obama, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, Equality Florida, and AFL–CIO.
Eskamani is considered a progressive within the Democratic Party, often focusing on issues relating to gun control, public education policy, and abortion rights.
Eskamani secured a year-long diaper tax break for Floridians this year as part of the state’s tax package and helped deliver more than $2 million for local projects within her district in the state budget. Alongside state Senator Lori Berman, she also filed a bill that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Florida.
U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz
Despite being just 42 years old, Moskowitz boasts a long resume in politics that includes experience as an intern for then-Vice President Al Gore, as an assistant on Joe Lieberman’s 2004 presidential campaign, and as a Florida elector for Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Moskowitz also served on the Parkland City Commission before successfully running for a position in the state House in 2012. He subsequently won reelection in 2014 and 2016. Following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Moskowitz helped draft the bipartisan Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act, the first comprehensive mental health, school safety, and gun control bill of its kind in over 20 years.
In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Moskowitz as the Director of the state Department of Emergency Management, where he successfully oversaw the early stages of recovery following Hurricane Michael, the category 5 storm that devastated Florida’s panhandle, and the start of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Following his role with the state agency, Moskowitz ran for the U.S. Representative seat left vacant after Ted Deutsch announced he would not seek reelection. In Washington, Moskowitz is part of the New Democrat Caucus, which is defined by socially liberal stances and a liberal-to-moderate approach to fiscal matters.
A native of Tallahassee, Matlow currently serves as a Commissioner in the city. He was elected to the position in 2018 and represents the city’s second district.
Before entering politics, Matlow was a small business owner and entrepreneur in the region known for his advocacy on issues related to economic development and government transparency. He has also been a vocal critic of the city’s previous leadership and has advocated for greater accountability and transparency in local government.
During his time in office, Matlow has championed a number of progressive policies and initiatives, including efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing in Tallahassee, support for small businesses, and environmental protection. He has also advocated for greater community engagement and input in local decision-making processes.
For a short period of time in January, Matlow emerged as a candidate for the Florida Democratic Party’s Chair position. Before ultimately pulling out of the race, he championed grassroots efforts as a means to regaining lost ground in Florida.
“Working together, Democrats can support their local Democrat Executive Committees and lay the framework needed to win statewide,” Matlow said.
With age as his advantage, Matlow appears primed to enter a larger stage within the party.