2020 Florida voter’s guide to state unemployment: Who’s on your side?

Former Florida Governor Rick Scott’s draconian changes to the unemployment system have ruined untold numbers of lives and caused immeasurable suffering. We learned from a South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial that several proponents of the 2011 law which decimated worker benefits are still in office and/or running for re-election.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, “Every Democrat in the Legislature in 2011 who’s still in office voted no. The final Senate and House roll call votes on HB 7005 are here and here… The Senate Democratic leader in 2011, Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, now a Broward County commissioner, called the Republicans’ treatment of workers ‘a moral disaster.’ 

“Two years later, Scott and lawmakers separately created the online filing system that still fails Florida families…. We’re waiting to hear their solutions to a crisis they created.”

“All [the politicians who voted to decimate Florida’s unemployment system] are Republicans…We’re waiting to hear their solutions to a crisis they created.” — @SunSentinel #FloridaUnemployment #VoteBlue #DemCastFL

2020 Election Endorsements

We don’t think a reasonable system of unemployment benefits should be a partisan issue, but in Florida, it clearly is. Here are our recommendations for some of the most notable races. Because current Republican lawmakers refused to convene a special session of the legislature to deal with unemployment this year, we advocate voting for the Democrat in the race if your district isn’t specifically listed.

DISTRICTcandidate ENDORSements
SENATE
Senate 1
Escambia Santa Rosa
Karen Butler (D), decorated U.S. veteran, is running against Doug Broxson (R), who voted for Rick Scott’s bill.
Senate 9
Seminole
Patricia Sigman (D) labor and employment lawyer, is running to fill the seat left vacant by David Simmons (R), who voted for the bill. Her opponent, Jason Brodeur (R), was a state House representative in 2011 who also voted for Scott’s bill.
Senate 17
Brevard
Indian River
Scott Fretwell (D), member of the Florida Young Democrats, is running against Debbie Mayfield (R), who voted for the bill.
Senate 25
St. Lucie
Martin
Palm Beach
Corinna Robinson (D), is a single mother and homeland security professional running against Gayle Harrell (R), who voted for the bill.
Senate 27
Lee
Rachel Brown (D), is an environmental activist running to replace Lizbeth Benacquisto (R), who voted for the bill and endorses Brown’s opponent, Ray Rodrigues (R).
Senate 39
Miami-Dade
Monroe
Javier Fernández (D), is currently a state Representative in House district 114. He’s running to replace Anitere Flores (R) in the Senate, who voted for the bill and endorses challenger Ana Maria Rodriguez (R).
HOUSE
House 5
Marianna
Defuniak
Write-in Anita Huffman (D), who was unfortunately disqualified from the race because of a notary public’s error on her paperwork. She filed to run against Brad Drake (R), who voted for the bill.
House 29
Lake Mary
Sanford
Tracey Kagan (D), criminal defense attorney and single mother, is running against Scott Plakon (R), who voted for the bill.
House 47
East Orlando
Anna Eskamani (D), the incumbent, has been tireless in her efforts to help unemployment claimants all across Florida. She’s running against challenger Jeremy Sisson (R).
House 52
Melbourne
Satellite Beach
Lloyd Dabbs (D), is a combat veteran and career intelligence officer running against Thad Altman (R), who voted for the bill.
House 64
Odessa
Safety Harbor
Jessica Harrington (D), an educator, was running against James Grant (R), who voted for the bill until he resigned from the race to become Florida’s Chief Information Officer. Grant hand-picked Harrington’s new opponent, Traci Kloster (R), an attorney who has evicted people from their homes.
House 65
Dunedin
Palm Harbor
Kelly Johnson (D), a single mother of 8 with first-hand experience as an unemployment claimant, is running against Chris Sprowls (R), who opposed a special session of the legislature this year and is in line to become House majority leader if he wins the race.
House 74
North Port
Venice
Lisa Stortstrom (D), is an environmental activist with first-hand experience as an unemployment claimant. She’s running against the incumbent James Buchanan (R).

Future Elections

The following Republican opponents of reasonable unemployment benefits will be up for election in 2022, with the exception of Rick Scott, whose current term in the U.S. Senate expires in 2024.

  • Former Governor, now U.S. Senator, Rick Scott — 2024
  • Lt. Governor, Jeanette Núñez — 2022
  • Former state House member Jimmy Patronis, now state Chief Financial Officer — 2022
  • State Senator Ben Albritton, District 26 — 2022
  • State Senator Jeff Brandes, District 24 — 2022
  • State Senator Ed Hooper, District 16 — 2022
  • State Senator Kathleen Passidomo, District 28 — 2022
  • State Senator Keith Perry, District 8 — 2022
  • State Senator Kelli Stargel, District 22 — 2022
  • Former House member Bryan Nelson, now Mayor of Apopka — 2022
  • Former state Senator Alan Hays, now Lake County Supervisor of Elections, running unopposed in 2020

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