- Jason Pizzo was elected as Senate Democrat Leader-Designate for the 2024-2026 legislative cycle.
- He will succeed Lauren Book, the current Senate Democrat Leader, who faces a term limit in 2024.
- Pizzo is a leader among the Democrats in Florida and is known for opposing GOP-led legislation and challenging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on his handling of migrants.
- Pizzo aims to provide “smoother political messaging and fundraising” in order to increase the number of Democrat senators in the chamber.
The Senate Democrat Caucus unanimously voted to elect Sen. Jason Pizzo as Senate Democrat Leader-Designate for the 2024 through 2026 legislative cycle.
He will succeed current Senate Democrat Leader Lauren Book, who faces a term limit in 2024. Pizzo currently serves as Leader Pro Tempore for the 2022 to 2024 legislative cycle.
Pizzo’s election comes at a crucial time for the Democratic Party in Florida, which experienced historic losses in the midterm elections.
“My gratitude for the trust Senate Democratic colleagues have bestowed upon me is exceeded only by the sense of duty I am thrilled to undertake,” Pizzo said following the vote.
Pizzo, who was first elected to the Senate in 2018 and represents areas of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, has emerged as a leader among the waning Democrats in Tallahassee, oftentimes playing antagonist to the GOP-led legislation making its way through the Senate, including measures in the current special session related to migrant transportation.
Pizzo notably filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis last year, accusing the governor of unlawfully using taxpayer money to fly approximately fifty undocumented migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
The ongoing lawsuit contends that part of the state budget used to pay for the flights violates the Florida Constitution and that the DeSantis administration improperly infringed on the federal government’s authority over immigration issues.
Pizzo has also positioned himself to be at the frontlines of a Democrat effort to oppose filed a permit-less carry bill championed by Florida’s Republican leaders.
“The Leader-Designate’s tenacity and intellect are matched only by his heart for others, and I have every confidence in Senator Pizzo’s ability to unify, lead, and expand the Caucus so that Florida Senate Democrats may continue to fight for our shared values and be a voice for everyday working people in our great State,” said Book.
Pizzo also asserts that his leadership will provide “smoother political messaging and fundraising” in order for Democrat senators to increase their numbers in the chamber.
Florida Republicans took a stranglehold on the state’s power dynamic last year, attaining a supermajority in both the House and Senate, with the governor’s cabinet featuring all party mates.
Further, state Democrats failed to win a statewide office election for the first time since the reconstruction era. The Republican Party of Florida touted this week that it increased its voter registration advantage — which the party achieved for the first time in state history last year — by 100,000 voters since DeSantis’ blowout victory over Charlie Crist.
Pizzo told The Sun Sentinal last week that he would refrain from getting involved in primary races to determine nominees in the year he assumes party control.
Pizzo appeared to garner wide support from the early stages of consideration for Book’s successor, with colleagues lauding his expertise in policy and law.
“I think his ability to understand a wide variety of perspectives, stand his ground, and still create meaningful relationships is exactly what our caucus needs to be successful in the current environment,” said Sen. Tracie Davis.
Before his time in politics, Pizzo served as a prosecutor.