South Tampa businesswoman and civic activist Jen McDonald, a Democrat, has filed to run for the state House in the Tampa-based District 60 seat currently held by state Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa.
Uncertainty over redrawing district lines has left it unclear what Republican opponent McDonald could face in November, but she’s likely to have the support of Hillsborough County’s Democratic leaders.
She begins the race with an endorsement from Ruth’s List, an influential political committee that backs pro-choice Democratic women running for public office in Florida.
She ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner in 2020, losing in a primary to Harry Cohen, who won the seat.
Following the election, she and Cohen formed what McDonald called “a serious and committed romantic relationship.”
Toledo, now in her third term, is eligible to run for re-election and hasn’t commented publicly on her political plans but is said by friends and GOP insiders to be considering running for Congress, depending on district lines that haven’t been finalized.
Two South Tampa Republicans, Jake Hoffman and Michael Minardi, have filed in nearby districts, but could switch races.
McDonald, 41, who owns a commercial insurance agency, is chair of the county Citizens Advisory Committee and the Hillsborough Community College Business Advisory Board; past president of the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association; a Junior League member and former South Tampa Chamber of Commerce board member.
She grew up in Philadelphia and has degrees in business and risk management from Temple University. She has lived in Tampa since 2003.
She said she’s running because of “terrible decisions” the Legislature has made, including House committee passage of a bill, later amended, that could have required some girls to undergo intimate physical examinations to participate in girls’ sports, and the “Stop Woke” act limiting discussions of race relations in schools and workplaces.
McDonald acknowledged Tallahassee’s Democratic minority “can’t determine the agenda,” but said her goal is “to shine a light on what’s happening in Tallahassee, make sure our communities are aware of what’s being voted on and that they get their say.”