Florida Democrats flip Republican House seat in Special Election

ORANGE COUNY, Fla. — Florida Democrats scored a win Tuesday night in a special election to fill a vacant House seat with Tom Keen defeating Erika Booth in a closely watched race that saw major outside spending and an avalanche of mailers and TV ads.

Keen took in 51.3% of the vote to Booth’s 48.7%, defeating Booth by just 590 votes in the house district which spans Orange and Osceola counties, as of 7:35 pm with both counties showing all votes counted.


“I am deeply humbled and honored by the trust the people of District 35 have placed in me,” said Keen. “This victory is not just about our campaign, but about the voices of our community that demand to be heard and represented.”

The seat, which will be up for reelection in November, was vacated by Republican Fred Hawkins who resigned on June 30 to take over as the President of South Florida State College. Since then, the residents of District 35 have not had a member of the Florida House, which is now in its second week of the legislative session.

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“Florida Democrats are showing that voters are rejecting the extreme agenda of censorship and control from Ron DeSantis,” said former State Representative and current Senate candidate Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Smith who joined other high-profile Democrats in campaigning for Keen in the special election called the win a turning point for a party, a party that has been looking to get its footing back following the 2022 election.

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Digging into the numbers shows Keen overperformed with non-party affiliated voters, winning roughly 65% of the NPA vote, enough to overcome a raw vote lead in the race where Republicans cast some 900 more votes in the contest. Keen also overperformed in Orange County, where he beat Booth by 1,859 votes.

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