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Can the Democratic Party regain strength in Florida?

The Florida Capitol.
File photo
The Florida Capitol.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have new statewide leaders to steer them into the 2024 election cycle.

Florida Republicans last month elected Sarasota County State Committeeman Christian Ziegler as state chair.

Meanwhile, Democrats picked Nikki Fried, the state’s former agriculture commissioner, to be the party’s chair. She replaces Manny Diaz, who stepped down in January after a punishing midterm election that saw Republicans seizing super-majorities in both legislative chambers.

Democrats haven’t controlled the governor’s mansion or either chamber of the Legislature since 1999. However, this is the first time in over a century there’s not a single Democrat in statewide elected office. Can the party regain voters and political power? Or will Florida’s “swing state” status be forever loss?


2023 Legislative Session

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $114 billion dollar budget proposal this year includes pay increases for teachers, money for the environment and other items that may garner bipartisan support.

DeSantis is also supporting legislation that is a lot more polarizing — including a bill that would change the rules for carrying concealed weapons.


  • Lawrence Mower, Tallahassee correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Jason Garcia, Investigative reporter in Orlando and publisher of Seeking Rents.

Oversight of water quality and land development

DeSantis touted his environmental accomplishments in his reelection speech, highlighting his support for Everglades restoration. But environmentalists are sounding a warning over the upcoming session.

Gil Smart, executive director of VoteWater, says it’s likely to be a “session of sprawl.”

There’s concern too about a bill that would preempt local control over water quality, pollution and wetlands.


  • Amy Green, environmental reporter for WMFE.
  • Gil Smart, executive director of VoteWater and director of policy for Friends of the Everglades.
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Heather is the senior producer of WJCT 89.9 FM talk shows including First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, the Florida Roundup and What's Health Got to Do with It?