Florida Senator Gary Farmer neither confirmed nor denied he would be entering the race for the congressional seat held by retiring U.S. Representative Ted Deutch.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be considered,” said Farmer in a Zoom interview with SFGN on Wednesday. “Yes, it is something I am considering and mulling over.”
First elected to the Senate in 2016, Farmer represents eastern Broward County, including Wilton Manors. A Fort Lauderdale native and attorney known for taking on the powerful insurance industry, Farmer said it was Deutch who inspired him to get into politics.
“Ted Deutch is a longtime friend of mine,” Farmer said. “He was an inspiration to me early on and I sort of followed in his footsteps. He ran for the Florida Senate in 2006 with no prior legislative or elective experience. I knocked on doors for him six different weekends and he won against more established party candidates.”
Deutch is leaving Congress after 12 years to become the chief executive officer of the American Jewish Committee. His district covers parts of southern Palm Beach and northern Broward County. Farmer said Deutch’s retirement creates a “crater size opening in the state of Florida.”
“Ted provided exemplary service for the little guy and little girl and that’s how I’ve always viewed my role,” Farmer said. “We need to continue that type of representation in Congress.”
Farmer, 57, said he will be carefully considering his next steps and expects to make a decision in the coming weeks. Florida’s congressional redistricting maps have yet to be finalized. Gov. Ron DeSantis called a special session for April 19-22 to hammer out the details.
One way or another, Wilton Manors will be in his district, Farmer said. He praised the Island City’s community spirit and reminisced how his great uncle was a pioneering real estate agent with a house on Jenada Isles.
“Wilton Manors is such an accepting, helpful and caring city,” Farmer said. “I’m blown away by the sense of community … I wish we could bottle that up and teach other communities how to come together and live in peaceful harmony.”
Farmer declined to publicly state his choice for governor, but was adamant about Democrats uniting behind the eventual nominee.
“We have several very good candidates,” Farmer said. “I think there is a scenario I believe that benefits Democrats statewide. Any one of the three — Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried, Annette Taddeo — would be a universal improvement over Ron DeSantis and his hateful, hurtful, harmful, homophobic agenda that he has been running and if he gets re-elected we’re gonna see this for another two years while he continues with these red-meat issues to gin up his base to get them to turn out and turn up the heat on that fear factor.”
Fear, Farmer said, is what’s driving the DeSantis campaign. The now infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law is an example of the Republican Party’s efforts to ignite culture wars.
“The Republican Party, which is largely composed from an electoral standpoint of conservative white men, are scared to death about losing power,” Farmer said. “They realize as society becomes more tolerant, more integrated — whether it be race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whatever — fear goes away. Fear is largely based on ignorance, in my experience. As sexual orientation and gender identity become more commonplace, the fear goes away. It’s more understood.”
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Broward County Commissioner Seeks Retiring Congressman's Seat