Carlos Guillermo Smith
Carlos Guillermo Smith Photo from Smith's FB account by Mitchel Worley

Carlos Guillermo Smith is the first LGBTQ Latino to be selected to the state's senate after securing the 17th district in Central Florida running unopposed as a Democrat.

In addition to Smith, nine incumbent House Democrats secured automatic bids to return to Tallahassee as the qualification period closed for the upcoming elections.

"My heart is full of gratitude for this community who has entrusted me with the responsibility of serving as their state senator," Smith said in a written statement after he learned he had been elected. He also anticipated some of the issues he plans on spearheading:

"Since last year, our campaign has knocked on over 10,000 doors in Senate District 17. We know that voters are frustrated with the direction our state has been heading, and they've had enough. Rents and property insurance premiums are soaring, over a million Floridians have recently lost health care, and Tallahassee has turned our classrooms into political battlefields."

Smith was first elected to the Florida House in 2016 but lost his re-election bid in 2022 to Republican Susan Plasencia. He began his campaign for the seat, previously held by Democrat Linda Stewart, more than a year ago. However, Stewart was term-limited and could not run again.

Smith has worked with the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida since 2015 and now serves as a senior policy adviser. Upon learning of his accomplishment, the organization also released a statement:

"We're thrilled that voters are sending Carlos back to Tallahassee to continue the fight in the Florida Legislature. Carlos is an unflinching progressive and one of the governor's sharpest critics. He consistently exposes the governor's lies, hypocrisy, and agenda to strip away our rights and freedoms. When the governor hid public information from voters, Carlos took him to court and won. Carlos is on the front lines, working to ensure the safety and well-being of all Floridians."

As Smith prepares to assume his new role, he and his fellow Democrats face a challenging landscape as it's dominated by Republicans. Their ranks continue to dominate in the Florida Legislature, with supermajorities in both the Florida House (84-36) and Senate (28-12) going into this fall's general election. They enjoy a lead of more than 900,000 registered voters over Democrats statewide.

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