Until last night, Florida was the largest state in the union to have never elected an openly gay candidate to its state legislature. Yes, even Texans elected an openly gay representative all the way back in 1991.
That changed last night as voters in Florida 113th House district, which encompasses parts of Miami Beach and Miami, elected David Richardson, an openly gay CPA. Though, when all is said and done Richardson may not even be the only openly gay politician headed to Tallahassee next year.
Richardson beat Adam Kravitz, an attorney who founded Jewish online dating service JDate, Mark Weithorn, husband of Miami Beach Commissioner Dedee Weithorn, and Waldo Faura, Jr., an insurance adjuster in the Democratic primary. He received 33 percent of the vote, besting Weithorn who came in second with 26.5 percent.
Because no Republicans registered in the district, the primary was opened to all voters and the winner of the Democrat primary took the election. The district includes a large chunk of Miami Beach, including South Beach, as well as section of Little Havana and a swath of Downtown Miami that include the American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat.
Richardson had never run for public office before, but had served as an auditor for the U.S. Department of Defense, and his website says he will use that experience to "identify waste in the state budget, so funds can be better used to improve our schools, preserve our environment, and improve health care."
He picked up the endorsement from several of the area's gay rights groups, as well as from the AFL-CIO and the United Teacher's of Dade.
Florida Democratic Party chair Rod Smith told Naked Politics that Richardson "represents the rich, diversity that makes Florida great and we are pleased to welcome him to the state Legislature."
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Throughout the campaign, Richardson urged voters to support him for his experience and platform, and not necessarily because of his identity. But the presence of an openly gay politician in Tallahassee could be pivotal. After all, the stories of several openly gay legislators in New York's State Assembly are credited as a key point to getting gay marriage passed in the Empire State.
Richardson may not even be the only openly gay member of Florida's legislature next year. Openly gay candidate Joe Saunders easily won the Democratic primary in Orlando's District 49 last night. He'll face Republican Marco Peña in the general election in a district that leans heavily Democrat.
Ian Whitley, an openly gay Democrat, was also unopposed in his party's primary for District 120. He'll face Republican Holly Merrill-Raschein in November. The district was formerly held by Democrat Ron Saunders. That district represents the Florida Keys and a small part of Southern Miami-Dade.