Senate Democrats pick Gibson to lead caucus

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THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Audrey Gibson
Senate Democrats elected Audrey Gibson to replace Jeff Clemens as the next leader of the caucus in a secret ballot Monday evening. Clemens, D-Lake Worth, resigned from his Senate seat on Oct. 27 after admitting he had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

Gibson, D-Jacksonville, defeated Orlando Democrat Randolph Bracy in Monday night’s election. She will take over as the Senate minority leader after the 2018 elections, when Democrats hope to flip several seats in a chamber where Republicans now hold a 24-15 majority.

“I look forward to working with caucus members on their priorities and ensuring their voices are heard on legislation impacting all Floridians. I am also excited about bringing in new Democrat senators to the Florida Senate to create a legislative balance in the chamber,”

Gibson, who was elected to the Senate in 2011 after serving eight years in the House, said in a statement. Clemens’ abrupt departure rocked Senate Democrats, who were pumped up after recapturing a formerly Republican-held Miami-Dade County seat in a September special election.

Election date set for Clemens’ seat
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday set a Jan. 30 special primary election and an April 10 general election in Senate District 31, which became vacant when Lake Worth Clemens resigned after acknowledging he had an affair with a lobbyist.

The special election dates in the Democratic-leaning Palm Beach County district could keep the seat vacant throughout the upcoming 60-day legislative session, which begins Jan. 9.

The election dates matched a request by Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, a former Democratic state House member. Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, and former Rep. Irv Slosberg, a Democrat who lost to Clemens in 2016, have opened campaign accounts to run for the seat.

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