BLACK PRIMARY POWER

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Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony was one of the African Americans who won major races in Florida on Aug. 18.

CARLINE JEAN/SUN SENTINEL/TNS

Black candidates dominate in Broward and win major races around the state.

COMPILED BY ALEXIA MCKAY
FLORIDA COURIER

Black Floridians made history on Aug. 18, winning key local and state races.

In Broward County, Black candidates won four of the major electoral offices.

Harold Pryor, president of the county’s Black lawyers association and a former prosecutor, defeated his opponents Tuesday night in the Broward state attorney race. Pryor received 21 percent of the vote with Joe Kimok coming in next with 20 percent. State Attorney Mike Satz is stepping down after 44 years in the position.

Pryor will face Republican Greg Rossman in November; Broward County is heavily Democratic, so Pryor is expected to win.

In a bitter race, Gregory Tony narrowly defeated former sheriff Scott Israel to become Broward’s first elected Black sheriff.

Tony, a Florida State University graduate, was appointed interim sheriff after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel following Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High school massacre in 2018. A state-appointed panel determined Israel’s leadership contributed to the slow response of deputies who failed to confront the Parkland shooter.

Close race

On Tuesday night, Tony beat out Israel by 4,700 votes of 174,000 cast, according to the Broward Supervisor of Elections. Tony will likely face off against Republican H. Wayne Clark, a military veteran and practicing trial attorney whose expertise is construction litigation.

Another winner, Gordon Weekes, beat out two rivals to become the county’s newest public defender. Weekes was the first assistant public defender to represent children charged as adults in the county.

Brenda Forman, the first African American and the first elected female clerk in the history of the  Broward County Clerk of Court’s Office, was re-elected to her office.

Incumbent Rep.  Bobby DuBose  won the House District 94, securing 70 percent of the vote over his 21-year-old opponent, Elijah Manley.

Duval County

In the Jacksonville area, Rhonda Peoples-Waters made history as the first Black judge elected to the bench. Waters defeated sitting Judge Erin Perry, a White female appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott.

People-Waters’ win makes it the first time a sitting judge has lost an election in nearly a decade, according to Jacksonville.com.

Miami-Dade County

Further down south in the Miami area, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert narrowly defeated Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, for a county commission seat.

Rep. Shevrin Jones secured the Democratic nomination for the Senate District 35 seat in the Florida Legislature. The district represents both Broward and Miami-Dade counties. If he wins in November, Jones would be the first openly gay member of the Florida Senate.

Jones also had tested positive for COVID-19 back in July and has since recovered. In a statement released Wednesday, he said, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for fueling this people-first campaign since I entered the race over 19 months ago.

“Your support and encouragement helped us win a hardfought primary – with frontline
workers, teachers, community-focused advocates, and other trusted local leaders by our side. I am so proud of the movement we’ve built and history we are making together,” he added.

Orange County

Black women shone in Central Florida, too.

Monique Worrell  won the Democratic primary for OrangeOsceola state attorney. Worrell, a criminal justice attorney with experience as a leader, advocate, teacher and administrator, defeated Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees Chairman Belvin Perry Jr., a retired judge, for Florida’s Ninth Judicial circuit’s top prosecutor position.

Attorney Vennia Francois, an Orlando native whose parents are from the Bahamas, won the Republican primary for U.S. House District 10.

Tampa Bay area

Clearwater civil rights attorney Michele Rayner  won 30 percent of the vote to represent District 70, which includes parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, in the Florida House. There were no Republican challengers.

Rayner perhaps is best known for representing the family of Markeis McGlockton, the Clearwater man who was shot and killed by Michael Drejka back in 2018. The win makes Rayner one of the first openly lesbian women of color elected to Florida’s Legislature.

“We’ve run a campaign focused on putting people over politics and that’s rooted in a commitment to working with and for residents until the change they seek is a reality,” she stated in a press release.

“This win proves that this community is really tired of business as usual and is ready for change, and I’m so grateful and humbled that the voters of District 70 have elected me to represent them in Tallahassee to move us closer to the change we all deserve.”

Treasure Coast

Pam Keith, a Navy veteran, won the Democratic primary for the 18th Congressional District which covers Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Stuart, and Jupiter.

She defeated challenger Oz Vazquez and will go on to face Republican challenger U.S. Rep Brian Mast, the incumbent, of Palm City.

Not all winners

In Duval County, Florida House Rep. Kimberly Daniels was defeated by community organizer Angie Nixon.

Nixon is the current director for the Florida Public Service Union’s Higher Education Campaign and founder of a Black girls mentoring and outreach group called The Moxie Group.

Daniels, an evangelist and Democratic Party member who is an anti-abortion advocate, had been targeted for defeat by the politically active LGBTQ community for years for remarks she made about homosexuality. Conservative Republicans contributed heavily to the Daniels campaign.

In Escambia County, Florida House Rep. Mike Hill lost the Republican primary to Michelle Salzman in Escambia County’s state House district. Salzman earned 52 percent of the vote in the two-person race.

Floridapolitics.com reports that Hill, an ultraconservative military veteran, was accused
of being insensitive during the COVID-19 pandemic and made claims such as a desire to bring President Trump’s vandalized Hollywood Walk of Fame star to be displayed in Pensacola.

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