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At least two women lawmakers eye FL House Dems leadership in 2026

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At least two women lawmakers eye FL House Dems leadership in 2026

Nov 28, 2023 | 5:05 pm ET
By Jackie Llanos
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At least two women lawmakers eye FL House Dems leadership in 2026
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State Reps. Kelly Skidmore (left) and Christine Hunschofsky announced on Nov. 21, 2023, their candidacies for House Democratic leader for the 2026-2018 term. Credit: Florida House of Representatives.

State Reps. Kelly Skidmore and Christine Hunschofsky are running for the House Democratic leadership 2026-2028 term, a pivotal role in the Florida Legislature. The caucus will elect the next leader during the session starting in January.

The two women want to succeed House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell after her term ends. They officially launched their candidacies on Nov. 21. So far, they are the only ones who have done so, meaning that a woman could continue leading the House caucus in the next years.

Skidmore, who represents part of Palm Beach County, served in the Florida House from 2006 to 2010 and again starting in 2020. Since joining the Legislature, she has been the Democratic ranking member in multiple healthcare committees, according to her state House profile.

Hunschofsky, from part of Broward County, has been in the House since 2020.

During the coming legislative session starting in January, Skidmore will be the Democratic ranking member of the Health and Human Services Committee and the Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee. Hunschofsky is the Democratic ranking member of the Infrastructure Strategies Committee and the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.

The women sit together in the Healthcare Regulation subcommittee. Both the House and Senate will focus on health care policy in 2024.

When Driskell became the first Black woman to lead the Florida House Democrats in 2022, Skidmore took the role of caucus policy chair. Driskell also held this position before the Democrats elected her as leader.

“I am excited about the opportunities for the Democratic Caucus and know that we are strongest and most effective when we are united,” Skidmore wrote in a Tuesday press release. “The House Democratic Caucus knows that as leader I offer steady and committed leadership and will not abandon them for personal gain or political ambition.”

Last month, Skidmore and State Rep. Robin Bartleman of Broward County pushed for an oversight hearing on the number of Floridians who’ve lost access to health services following the federal government’s rollback of Medicaid eligibility. Their attempt did not work, ultimately. For the next session, Skidmore has introduced four bills. One of which is the House counterpart of SB 256 from Democratic Senate Leader Lauren Book. Both bills seek stricter regulations for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers.

Earlier this year, Hunschofsky co-sponsored a bill to legalize fentanyl test strips. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the Senate companion of Hunschofsky’s proposal. For the next session, she has also filed four proposals. HB 291 would strengthen background checks for guns.

The press release announcing Skidmore’s candidacy included endorsements from four representatives: Kevin Chambliss, Kristen Arrington, Dan Daley and David Silvers.

“As Democrats in Tallahassee strive to emerge from the super minority, it is crucial that we have strong and experienced leaders like Representative Skidmore guiding us forward,” Chambliss, who represents part of Miami-Dade wrote in the press release. “Her ability to unite people, find common ground, and effectively communicate our values to the people of Florida will be instrumental in building bridges and the support necessary to enact positive change.”

So far, Hunschofsky has not publicly announced any endorsements.