Florida Senate Democrats have officially thrown their support behind a candidate for a crucial South Florida seat.
The 17-member caucus endorsed Rep. Javier Fernández Monday for Senate District 39, the southernmost district that will be open next year after Republican Sen. Anitere Flores leaves due to term limits.
Fernández, 44, is currently the only Democrat running for the seat, which covers Sweetwater to Key West.
“I am proud to have the support of all of my future colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus,” Fernández said in a statement Monday. “I’m running for the State Senate in order to ensure our voices are heard on the frontline of these battles for the people of Florida.”
Senate Victory, the campaign arm of the party, had been pursuing Fernández for months to run in the district, which chose Hillary Clinton in 2016 President Donald Trump in 2016, despite electing Flores. Democrats trail Republicans 23 to 17 in membership in the Senate, and have been looking for pickup opportunities like Flores’ seat.
Under the direction of Sen. Gary Farmer, the committee endorsed Fernández Monday.
“It is no secret that District 39 is the top battleground as Senate Democrats continue on the path to the majority in Florida,” Farmer, of Lighthouse Point, said in a statement. “Javier Fernández is a proven winner in the rough and tumble world of Miami-Dade politics with a track record of raising the resources necessary to compete in a highly competitive campaign.”
The party avoided an expense primary in the swing district after former state Rep. Robert Asencio decided against running for the seat. He instead pivoted his interest to running for the Miami-Dade County Commission seat currently held by Joe Martinez.
Fernández faces GOP Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Republican Angie Chirino, a singer and former congressional candidate. Pinecrest Vice Mayor Anna Hochkammer was a short-time Democratic candidate, but she left the race last month citing medical issues. .
By Samantha J. Gross