Local Lawmakers Now Part of GOP Super-Majority

Todays News

Screenshot via Florida Channel. Rep. Fiona McFarland presents a bill in committee.

Sarasota and Manatee lawmakers just re-elected to the Florida Legislature will head to Tallahassee now as part of supermajorities. With the legislative delegations for both counties made up exclusively of Republican members, a product of both electoral successes and changes from redistricting, all contribute to massive GOP numbers in the Florida Legislature.

But members say that may not matter much in terms of the local needs of the counties.

“The Sarasota-Manatee delegation has and continues to be incredibly strong,” said Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota. “Regardless of party, we’ve agreed on the needs of our region and will continue to advocate for those issues.”

State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, agreed and said the party dominance would make “no difference” as far as local issues go. Notably, Gruters serves still as chair of the Republican Party of Florida, and on Election Day released a lengthy statement that celebrated, among other big wins, that Republicans “will head to Tallahassee with a supermajority in both the State House and State Senate.” Voters elected 28 Republican state senators and 12 Democratic ones, and in the House elected 85 Republicans and 35 Democrats.

The once-a-decade redrawing of legislative districts also shifts the local delegation make-up. For example, state Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, won re-election but will no longer represent any part of Manatee or Sarasota counties. Meanwhile, state Rep. Michael Grant, R-Punta Gorda, will now represent part of south Sarasota County and state Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Apollo Beach, will represent a portion of north Manatee.

State Sens. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Gruters both won GOP primaries and faced no Democratic opposition. State Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, won re-election uncontested, as did state Rep. James Buchanan, R-Venice. Meanwhile, state Reps. Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, and Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, both defeated Democratic challengers last week.

Even when Democrats have served on the delegation, though, McFarland said local lawmakers worked well together. 

“Even without the super majority, Boyd accomplished a ton for opioid crisis back when manatee was really struggling, Gruters got the clean waterways act and huge funding for red tide research, Gruters and I did the child welfare funding work when we learned how under funded our area was, and Joe did the smoking on the beach work,” she said.

Screenshot via Florida Channel. Rep. Fiona McFarland presents a bill in committee.

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