Hillsborough Senate district among 5 Florida state Senate races to watch

Tampa Democrat Janet Cruz is up against Republican Shawn Harrison for Senate District 14.
Florida Sen. Janet Cruz on the floor of the Florida Senate, Thursday, May 2, 2019.
Florida Sen. Janet Cruz on the floor of the Florida Senate, Thursday, May 2, 2019. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times (2019) ]
Published May 2, 2022

TALLAHASSEE — With district lines redrawn after the once-a-decade reapportionment process, Republican and Democratic legislative leaders are setting priorities for this year’s elections.

Some of the most hotly contested — and expensive — races will be for seats in the state Senate, where Republicans hold a 24-16 majority. Here are five races to watch:

  • Senate District 10: After winning a fierce race in 2020, Sen. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, faces a challenge from Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, a Maitland Democrat who has served in the House since 2018. Brodeur served eight years in the House before getting elected to the Senate, where he is chairperson of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The redrawn District 10 is made up of Seminole County, which is almost evenly split between registered Republicans and Democrats, and part of Orange County.
  • Senate District 14: Tampa Democrat Janet Cruz was elected to the Senate in 2018 when she beat then-incumbent Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, by 411 votes. Now, Senate Republican leaders are betting on former Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, as they try to knock off Cruz in Hillsborough County’s redrawn District 14. Harrison was elected to the House in 2010 but lost the seat in 2012 after his district was redrawn. He won back the seat in 2014 but lost a reelection bid in 2018. Cruz served as House minority leader before getting elected to the Senate.
Related: Former state Rep. Shawn Harrison files to challenge Tampa Sen. Janet Cruz
  • Senate District 35: While most of this year’s big Senate races will play out in the Nov. 8 general election, two seats — one in Duval County’s District 5 and one in Broward County’s District 35 — likely will be decided in the Aug. 23 Democratic primaries. The District 35 contest has drawn heavy attention because Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation, faces a challenge from former Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief. Book on Monday touted endorsements from some high-profile Broward leaders, while Sharief has pointed to experience representing much of the redrawn Senate district while on the Broward County Commission.
  • Senate District 36: Miami Republican Ileana Garcia defeated then-Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, by 32 votes in a heavily disputed 2020 election. Now, Democratic leaders hope Rep. Mike Grieco, D-Miami Beach, can return the favor and topple Garcia in Miami-Dade County’s District 36. Grieco has served in the House since 2018. Garcia, who previously worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is chairperson of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.
  • Senate District 38: Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and the two Republicans slated to succeed him as president announced their support Monday for Alexis Calatayud, director of policy and programs at the Florida Department of Education, in the race for an open seat in Miami-Dade County’s District 38. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are banking on health care executive Janelle Perez. While district numbers and boundaries have changed, the seat is open effectively because Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, is running for governor.

By Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida