New College Professor Keith Fitzgerald elected to State House by Mitch E. Perry11/09/06
Florida Democrats are still licking their wounds, after Jim Davisâ€™s loss to Charlie Crist in the battle for Governor. There is also disappointment that State Senator Skip Campbell lost out to Republican Bill McCollum for Attorney General.
But Alex Sinkâ€™s victory over Tom Lee for CFO is an obvious bright spot. Another one is in the State House, where Democrats picked up 7 seats, defeating two incumbent Republicans and capturing five open slots.
Now with 42 members in the 120 seat House, Democrats now represent more than a third of the votes in the House. What that means is that they now have an opportunity to break the Republican stranglehold on the chamber, at least in deciding measures such as proposed constitutional amendments, which require two-thirds approval to pass. The 7 seats is certainly more than Democratic State Party Chair Karen Thurman was predicting earlier this year, even with the excitement of an anti-Republican fervor spreading across the country.
One of those new Democrats is New College Professor Keith Fitzgerald in House District in the Sarasota-Manatee County Area. Fitzgerald beat out Republican Laura Benson on Tuesday night. He says the Democrats success should be a wakeup call for State Republicans to show a little more respect to the opposition party, which he says can only be a good thing for the political process in Tallahassee (roll tape#1 o.q.â€? peopleâ€™s real concerns are â€œ)
Despite their success in the state house, Florida Democrats could not do the same in the State Senate. They didnâ€™t win any seats, but showing the power of incumbency and safe districts, didnâ€™t lose any either, maintaining their 14 member caucus, in comparison to the Republicans 26 members. A plan to get a commission of Judges to create new district lines for the state legislature failed to qualify for the 2006 ballot. Organizers say they will try again in 2008.
But Aubrey Jewett, a political Science Professor at the University of Central Florida, says though that proposal is big for Democrats to compete for more legislative seats, he says thereâ€™s something else along the horizon (roll tape#2 o.q.â€?re-districting guidelinesâ€?)
For Governor-elect Charlie Crist and the legislature, there are major problems to contend with- Property Insurance, property taxes, lack of affordable housing, are just some of the items affecting the quality of life of all Floridians. Freshman Democratic state house member Keith Fitzgerald agrees that things are reaching a near crises Level (roll tape#3 o.q. â€œweâ€™re all going to be suffering because of itâ€?)
The District 69 seat won by Democrat Keith Fitzgerald had been held by Republicans since 2000.