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With David Richardson, Floridians Elect the First Openly Gay Member of the Legislature

| August 15, 2012

David Richardson florida legislature openly gay member

David Richardson.

In primary elections shaped by newly drawn districts, Florida voters Tuesday appeared to send three incumbent House members packing, rejuvenated the political careers of a few old names — and likely elected the state’s first openly gay lawmaker.

Miami-Dade voters chose Rep. Jose Felix Diaz over fellow Rep. Ana Rivas Logan in a Republican primary in House District 116, and Rep. Barbara Watson held a narrow lead late Tuesday over Rep. John Patrick Julien in a Democratic primary in District 107. Flagler County voters gave Democrat Milissa Holland, the county commissioner, a resounding victory over fellow-Democrat Doug Courteny. Holland now faces Republican Travis Hutson in the general election for the newly formed District 24 seat, which includes all of Flagler County.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County voters gave former Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, a big primary win over incumbent Steve Perman of Boca Raton. Rader joined former lawmakers such as Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, in winning primaries as they seek to return to Tallahassee.

In Miami-Dade, meanwhile, Democratic voters in District 113 chose David Richardson over three other candidates, electing likely the first openly gay member of the Legislature. Richardson, a Miami Beach accountant who got 33 percent of the vote, does not have a general election opponent.

“Florida’s journey to total equality, including marriage equality, is far from over,” the advocacy group SAVE Dade said in an e-mail. “But David’s victory is a big step forward for our community.”

The once-a-decade redistricting process has led to incumbent House members knocking on doors in unfamiliar territory this year and, in some cases, facing tougher primary races than in the past.

In northeast Florida, Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, withstood a tough challenge from St. Johns County residents Mike Davis and Kim Kendall in District 17. Renuart got 39 percent of the vote, while Davis collected 31 percent and Kendall had about 30 percent.

In a neighboring district, Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, turned back Neptune Beach attorney Cord Byrd in another hard-fought race. Adkins got about 66 percent of the vote as she seeks a third term in the newly drawn district that includes parts of Duval and Nassau counties.

Some of Tuesday’s close races did not involve incumbents. For example, Avon Park physician Cary Pigman had a 26-vote lead late Tuesday over former Rep. Randy Johnson of Sebring in a Republican primary in largely rural House District 55 in south-central Florida.

In the Orlando area, Republican Marco Pena won by fewer than 300 votes in his House District 49 primary against Rene “Coach P” Plasencia. Among Democratic primaries, Gainesville Democrat Andrew Morey also won by fewer than 400 votes over the better-funded Aaron Bosshardt in District 21.

The primaries also provided a chance for some former lawmakers to try to return to Tallahassee. Diaz de la Portilla, who has served in the House and Senate, easily beat former Rep. Gus Barreiro in a Republican primary in District 112 and moved onto a general-election race against Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Diaz de la Portilla’s brother Renier, also a former House member, wasn’t so lucky: He lost to Manny Diaz, Jr., in a Republican primary in District 103.

Other former lawmakers who were successful in House races Tuesday included former Rep. Bruce Antone, who won a Democratic primary in District 46 in the Orlando area and does not face a general-election opponent. Also, former Republican Rep. Frank Farkas, of St. Petersburg, cruised to an easy win in District 68, though he still faces a general-election fight against Democrat Dwight Dudley.

Also, while not quite a former lawmaker, term-limited Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, crushed two opponents in the Republican primary in House District 36. Fasano faces only a write-in opponent in November.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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6 Responses for “With David Richardson, Floridians Elect the First Openly Gay Member of the Legislature”

  1. question says:

    Florida ventures ever so slightly out of the 1950’s. So proud!

    “In Miami-Dade, meanwhile, Democratic voters in District 113 chose David Richardson over three other candidates, electing likely the first openly gay member of the Legislature.”

    Congratulations David Richardson!

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Congratulations to Mr. David Richardson!

  3. Dorothea says:

    In another Florida Congressional primary race, tea party loudmouth and obstructionist, Alan West beat his Republican opponent, who supported a more moderate platform. West faces a Democratic challenger in November.

    Congratulations to Congressman elect, David Richardson.

    • question says:

      Dorothea, you mean this downright scary idiot:

      Allen West

      Tea Party activist Republican congressman whose beloved career in the Army ended under a cloud. “Prosecutors: It was torture and violated Uniform Code of Military Justice
      West was fined for harsh military tactics and chose to retire”

      Politifact PANTS ON FIRE lie comment: At a town hall meeting in Jensen Beach, located in the district in which Congressman Allen West will be running for re-election in a new seat (FL-18), West states that, when asked how many members of the Democratic Party are card-carrying Marxist Socialists, that he believes that they are 78-81 MEMBERS (in Congress) of the Democratic Party who belong to the COMMUNIST PARTY.
      VIDEO –

      Allen West Cruises to VICTORY [??!!] in Florida GOP Primary.
      …be afraid, be very afraid

  4. Elaygee says:

    Term limited officeholders should be prohibited from running for other same level (State/County/City) offices for two years. Otherwise, they never go away.

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