Editor’s Note: For the purpose of transparency, Charles Horowitz works as a volunteer on Lauren Book’s campaign.
On August 23, the voters of Florida’s 35th Senate District will have a choice to make when they vote in the primary. It will be an easy one. Those voters shall choose to support a leader who fights for everyone, who works tirelessly for the community and fights against extremist policies that take away our rights and freedoms.
Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie, shall win the primary by a resounding margin of victory, vindicating her previous six years of advocacy and effective legislating in Tallahassee. The primary has been misleadingly labeled by some pundits as ‘competitive,’ but with such a strong frontrunner as incumbent Book, it is clear that the voters shall reward her for everything she has done.
Book may be termed-out in two years due to Florida’s unreasonable term limits laws, but her loyal supporters will make sure she can keep fighting for Florida until the last minute of the last day she is constitutionally required to leave office.
Why? Take it from Book herself, as she told the Florida Political Review in an exclusive interview.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I am running for reelection because I want to continue to represent the constituents in what’s left of Senate District 32, and the new constituents in District 35. But, why I ran for office is, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse from the time I was 10 until I was 16, I understood and understand what it feels like to not have a voice and to feel invisible because if anybody could actually see you, they wouldn’t let those things happen.
And I promised that once I was able to heal and become a thriving survivor, that I would always work to be a voice for the voiceless. And so that is why I serve, why I want to continue to serve, because I want to be a voice for everyone in the community. It’s an important thing and I think that it’s a tough job. I want to make sure that everyone is protected.
Utilizing the pain of the past to inform one’s ability to shape the present is an inspiring story and one that helped Book get elected in the first place. She has used this story to fight back against radical proposals from her Republican colleagues, sharing her story on the Senate floor to try to bring context to Florida’s unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban that makes no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.
Even better, however, Book has used that story to achieve lasting change, helping her to get re-elected unopposed in 2018, vindicating her work since she first became a state senator for then-Florida’s 32nd Senate District back in 2016.
Just in the most recent two legislative sessions alone, Book passed Serena’s Law to close a loophole that previously allowed sexual predators to be around children even if they had a background check performed. Now, clerks of court throughout Florida must post the identities of people who have had injunctions or restraining orders filed against them to protect a child.
Book, who is a working mother, had an even larger victory this year when she secured a long-sought victory. For one year, diapers and feminine hygiene products will not be subject to sales tax in the state of Florida. This will save working mothers and their families significant quantities of capital in a state that grows more unaffordable for that same group every day.
In a similar vein, Book did what many thought was impossible in Tallahassee: expanding Medicaid. In a town long known for unreasonable refusals to expand healthcare (something that would cost the state nothing, by the way), the Senate Democratic leader blasted her way through Republicans who opposed her plan.
She even managed to get the Speaker of the House, Chris Sprowls, R-Dunedin, who has a questionable decision-making record, to get behind her vision. Now, that’s an accomplishment.
Due to Book’s perseverance, mothers in need can now get Medicaid coverage up to a year after childbirth, significantly lightening what is often a crushing financial burden of healthcare bills.
There is also the benefit of representation. Constituents deserve decent representation, but Book has taken that to the next level. As a resident of the old 32nd District and now 35th District, I can personally attest to this. Between Book’s omnipresence in the community and the tax dollars being returned from Tallahassee back to Broward, it’s easy to see how Book’s constituents are enjoying truly unparalleled representation in the Florida Senate.
Q: So now, in terms of representing those constituents, how well do you think you serve not only by you being a senator but also by you being the Senate Minority Leader?
A: I think I work extremely hard. They say this is a part-time job, but this is not a part-time job. And you know, my staff is incredible. We’re out there every single day. As you’ve seen, we’ve spent a lot of time in the community talking to constituents and at meetings. That’s part of who and what I am. And we don’t leave any stone unturned.
And being the minority leader helps, I think, in some ways because we’re able to take the issues that we hear on the grounds here, and kind of utilize the caucus infrastructure to get everybody to understand the issues because they’re not typically unique just to Senate District 35 or western Broward County. They are endemic across the entire state, and then we can kind of use that as a driver for policy change and shifts. And so I think that it really does help because you’re able to effect change from a policy-wide perspective and have an entire voting bloc of people who are also working to pull some of our other colleagues on the other side of the aisle to come along.
Still better, by serving as the Senate Democratic leader, Book can further serve her constituents and uniquely, the entire state of Florida.
Look at the above initiatives, for example. Book drew upon both her personal experience and the stories of countless constituents that she met to pass those bills into law. It is not just her district that benefits from her leadership, it is everyone in Florida.
This experience will be critical as Book enters her final two years in Tallahassee. It is also why her fellow Senate Democrats unanimously elected her to be their leader in 2021, making her (when she is termed out in 2024) one of the longest-serving leaders in Tallahassee since term limits were instituted in 1992. Even better, as minority leader, Book is responsible for recruiting the future of the Florida Senate.
So, when the voters of the 35th District go to the polls this August, the choice will be clear. Though there will be two candidates on the ballot, there will only be one option: Lauren Book. Her inspiring story, great constituent services and success at passing bills in a place notoriously bad at doing so shall carry her through the primary, after which she shall sail through the general election. I cannot wait to vote for her.
Florida’s primary day will be this August 23 and early voting commences on August 13, ending on August 20. Mail-in ballots are also an option, but additional restrictions have been put on those to suppress the Democratic vote. At any rate, no matter how you vote, make sure you do! Questions? Go to IWillVote.com to make a plan today.
Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.
Featured image: Florida Political Review candidate Q&A graphic depicting Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book. Image by Maria Varas.