Shevrin Jones is fired up. Florida’s first and, as of now, only LGBT state Senator, came to the Pride Center on Sept. 23 for a town hall meeting.

He talked about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ tyranny, activism, and how just a handful of votes in November’s election can make a difference between Democrats having a prominent seat at the table or becoming an absolutely powerless minority party in Tallahassee.

“We’re in a time when people aren’t just hurting, they’re scared and they’re looking for individuals who will stand up for our issues,” Jones told SFGN after the forum.

He laid out in bare bones, easy-to-understand numbers how close Democrats are to power and powerlessness. He pointed out four purple state Senate districts that the party can flip, which would give them a chance to have real influence in the next legislative session. Conversely, if Republicans get a net gain of just one seat, they’ll have a supermajority and Democrats will be powerless to check legislation.

Lack of Enthusiasm

While Jones showed up for the town hall, the town did not. Only about a dozen people showed up. It’s that lack of excitement that could be fatal to any hopes Democrats have of unseating DeSantis or making meaningful gains in the legislature. Jones said the LGBT community is being worn down by constant attacks.

“There’s a bit of apathy that we’re seeing with the electorate to where the Republicans are doing exactly what they’re trying to do, which is to drain the strength out of individuals like ourselves.”

With mail-in ballots starting to arrive this week, Jones and his team are working to focus on issues that may not get a lot of discussions but could bring out small pockets of voters. While the Dobbs decision overturning a woman’s right to choose has motivated large swaths of voters in both parties (deep red Kansas voted 60% in favor of preserving choice in the state constitution), there are other kitchen table issues that need to be addressed.

“Dobbs, we got that. Homeowners insurance is being talked about in small circles. Another thing we’re not talking about is people who have lost their homes, and are either with family members or are on the street.”

That’s why Jones said having allies who are sympathetic to LGBT rights isn’t enough. He’s looking for “accomplices,” people who will go above and beyond in desperate times.

“I want individuals who are willing to get in the foxhole, not just stand in the foxhole and call for help. Individuals who get in there with me because they know that we’re in danger. That’s the time we’re in right now.”


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