Voters in eastern Broward County face a monumental decision this November: Should they turn the last Broward-based Republican-held Florida House district blue?
It’s a choice between a relatively known commodity, Republican Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, or Democrat Emma Collum, a first-time candidate riding a new wave of feminism brought about by the #MeToo movement and the Women’s March, which Collum played a part in organizing.
House District 93 is the only Republican-held district in Florida’s most Democratic county. The district includes all of Broward County east of Dixie Highway and north of Port Everglades.
Collum seems tailor made for the Blue Wave moment that Democrats are hoping for in November. The lawyer previously served as a legislative aide to a New York assemblywoman, but her first political involvement in South Florida came as an organizer for the Women’s March after the election of President Donald Trump.
“I understand the importance of bringing all voices to the decision and planning table, including and especially the voices of marginalized and impacted communities,” she said. “We need to elect more women to office. Only 27 of 120 state representatives in Tallahassee are women.”
The district is an open seat because state Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, is term-limited. Moraitis, who is now the chairman of the Broward County Republican Party, spoke at Trump rallies during the 2016 election.
But LaMarca has pointed out time and again that he is not Moraitis.
He calls himself a moderate Republican and says that turning this last GOP-held Broward district blue would be bad for the county.
“Broward County needs to have a pragmatic member of the majority party in Tallahassee, especially with respect to critical appropriations,” LaMarca told the South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial Board.
Of the district’s 116,396 registered voters, 36 percent are Republican to 35 percent Democratic, and a large remainder are not affiliated with a party.
Collum has run a progressive campaign, calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana with taxes gained through marijuana sales to be possibly used to provide tuition-free education at state colleges. She is also in favor of a $15 minimum wage, the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and massive infrastructure spending to combat sea-level rise due to climate change.
“The water doesn’t care if you’re red, blue or NPA,” she said. “It’s coming.”
This year, including both her campaign and a related committee, Truth and Transparency, Collum has raised about $556,000 as of Sept. 28, including a $200,000 donation from financier and Democratic megadonor Donald Sussman, who in 2016 purchased a a $27.5 million home in the district.
LaMarca has raised about $461,000, including both his campaign and a committee, Citizens Helping Improve Policy. Unlike Collum, the vast majority of LaMarca’s money has gone into his campaign account, where contributions are limited to $1,000. But more than 300 donors have given that full amount, especially from the lobbying and construction industries. Aside from his full-time job on the county commission, LaMarca is a general contractor by trade. He has been endorsed by both business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and police and firefighters unions.
“I think if you compare our records, you will find I work together across the aisle and am willing to buck the party line if it means doing the right thing for our community,” LaMarca said, citing gun laws and the environment as areas in which he has parted ways with Republican orthodoxy.
Both candidates castigated the Florida Legislature for sweeping hundreds of millions of dollars from a trust fund tied to affordable housing. And both cite the ongoing environmental crises in Lake Okeechobee and the ocean as top concerns.
But LaMarca and Collum differ on marijuana legalization, an increased minimum wage, an assault-weapons ban and public education. LaMarca is a greater advocate for charters and other school choice options, while Collum says that these options often come at the expense of traditional public schools, and instead is pushing for increased teacher pay.
“Teacher pay remains abysmally low, which prevents us from attracting and retaining top talent,” she said. “Instead of trusting teachers, who go through strict training and certification processes, we hamper their ability to instruct by creating ridiculous testing requirements.”
Alternatively, voters could go a third way and opt for independent candidate Kelly Milam, who is running on a campaign of addressing climate change and lowering rents and housing prices. Milam has raised a few thousand dollars, mostly from family members, and faces long odds in that no independent candidate has served in the state House since the 19th century.
By Daniel Sweeney
I am very pleased to endorse Emma Collum for the State House in District 93.
Emma is an exciting candidate who will bring years of advocacy work, legal expertise and a fresh perspective to the legislature. Her work as an organizer of the Women's March on Washington inspired women across the country to step up, get more involved in campaigns and demand the equality we deserve.
As the former CFO of Florida, I've seen what happens when our legislature and our cabinet do not share a common vision for equity and forward-thinking policies. State House races are so important and we need leaders like Emma if we hope to accomplish our goals.
I truly believe in Emma Collum and I hope you'll support her campaign.
Huge news: I’ve just received an endorsement from President Obama in my race for District 93 State House Representative.
Having our race recognized by President Obama – who once himself served in his state legislature – is absolutely huge. Folks all over the country are recognizing how important this election is, and they’re excited to paint Florida blue and make a difference.
President Obama knows exactly how important it is to protect health care, fund our schools, and defend voting rights. With your help and support, in the state legislature I’ll fight for our community – because as Republicans attack our most deeply held values, it’s only by standing up that we’ll be able to fight back, together.
For too long, politicians have played games with your future. Like many Floridians, I've experienced the struggle of finding affordable, high quality healthcare in a system shaped by bad decisions. Healthcare should not be a political issue.
When our Republican-led Legislature rejected Medicaid expansion, they denied almost a million Floridians access to healthcare and left $5 billion in Federal money sitting on the table. As a State Representative, I'll fight to fix our broken system and give Floridians the care they deserve.
Please commit to our campaign so that I can be your voice in Tallahassee. I promise to always advocate for the health of all Floridians.
Thank you for all of your support,
Florida House candidate Emma Collum, a Democrat, is bashing Republican House members who signed a letter urging the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court — despite an allegation of a decades-old sexual assault.
Christine Blasey Ford alleges Kavanaugh drunkenly accosted her at a party when the two were back in high school. Ford recently agreed to testify in front of senators next week regarding her allegations. Kavanaugh also said he will testify and has denied the claims by Ford.
The letter from House Republicans, signed by 73 members, did not mention the allegation. Rather, Republican lawmakers emphasized Kavanaugh’s professional background and positive personal anecdotes to explain their support for his nomination.
“This letter is a repugnant show of partisanship over empathy and decency,” said Collum, currently running for the open seat in House District 93.
“By asking the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh and ignoring credible allegations of sexual assault, Florida Republicans are enabling sexual abusers and sending a clear message to other survivors: ‘If you come forward about your attacker, we won’t listen.’ We should believe women when they talk about their experiences.”
That latter sentiment echoes comments made by Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run for the presidency, when she said to sexual assault victims, “You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed.”
Critics responded by noting the Clintons’ previous pushback against numerous sexual assault accusers of former President Bill Clinton. The “right to be believed” portion of the quote was eventually removed from the Clinton’s 2016 campaign website, though the video of the remarks remained.
And currently, Democrats are earning sharp critiques for their handling of sexual assault allegations against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, now running to become Minnesota’s attorney general. The party has not pulled its support for Ellison, and a recent poll found only 5 percent of likely Democratic voters in Minnesota believed the allegations.
Collum also called for the FBI to look into Ford’s claims.
“In Kavanaugh’s case, a full FBI investigation must be completed before a vote is considered. This letter makes it clear that Florida Republicans care more about control and power than they care about the millions of women whose only request is to be treated with dignity.”
So far, Senate Republicans and the White House have rejected calls for the FBI to investigate further. That’s despite the fact that the FBI performed a similar function when Anita Hill made accusations of workplace misconduct by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
by Ryan Nicol
Any parent can tell you, it’s hard to support your family while you have little ones who depend on you for their well-being. Working parents still face many challenges, like minimal or no parental leave and a lack of affordable daycare. Today, on National Working Parents Day, I want to say to thank you to all of those out there raising the next generation of Americans to be engaged, informed, and kind.
My grandmother was the first in our family to attend college and she was passionate about making a difference through politics. Both my grandmother and mother were working parents, school teachers, and advocates for social change. Thanks to the dedication and sacrifices made by my mother and her mother before her, I am running for office today.
Their struggles and stances on labor issues informed my vision for this state. I want to bring the issues you deal with as working parents to the Legislature and work on your behalf for change. Please take a moment to donate to our campaign and help us build momentum by donating $5, $25, $50, or any amount you can spare.
Thank you again for all that you do.
Earlier this year, I founded an organization called Opportunity First with the mission to help elect a new generation of leaders up and down the ballot all across our country.
Today, I'm proud to announce that we have endorsed Emma Collum for the Florida House, District 93. Emma is a strong leader that will spur economic progress, protect our most sacred rights and be a model for inclusive leadership.
At Opportunity First, we are dedicated to investing in and supporting young, progressive leaders who put people before politics. People like Emma. The candidates we’re supporting this November represent the future of the Democratic party and showcase our collective vision for creating pathways to opportunity for all Americans.
We are excited to be part of Emma’s campaign and look forward to celebrating her victory.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Founder, Opportunity First
I’m honored to announce that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has endorsed my candidacy for State Representative in Florida’s District 93.
The Brady Campaign advocates for gun control and against gun violence in the U.S. It is named for former White House Press Secretary Jim Brady, who was wounded when a gunman attempted to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan.
Leaders at the organization thanked me for "working to protect Florida's children, families and communities from gun violence. We appreciate Emma's strong support for gun reform laws to reduce firearm injuries and deaths."
Here in Broward County, we know firsthand the devastating effects that unchecked gun laws can have on a community. From Parkland to the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting, it’s clear that we need comprehensive gun control in this country.
I have pledged to never accept NRA money, so I need your help. Please follow the Brady Campaign in supporting my campaign so that I can work to ban assault weapons and implement background checks from Tallahassee.
Miami New Times just published an article on the Pink Wave sweeping the state as a response to Trump’s (and others) anti-women policies. I'm heavily featured in the article, and would love you to read it if you can, here.
We know women can lead and they should lead. Like the majority of the other 149 female candidates in Florida, I felt silenced and afraid to live in a country that debases women and has a President that has consistently undermined us before and after he took office.
I was proud to be one of the founders of Women’s March Florida, but I wanted to get more involved on a governmental level, so I ran for office. When I am elected, I will replace the last remaining Republican State Representative in Broward County.
Since last October when I decided to run, I have knocked on at least 7,000 doors in District 93, but there’s still a lot of work to do in the upcoming months. That’s why I’m asking you to support my campaign today with a contribution of $10, $20, $50, or whatever you can afford to keep this Pink Wave moving.
Thank you for helping to make a difference,
Expanding Medicaid in Florida is a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
It would save our state money, provide healthcare access to millions of low-income residents, and help secure critical family planning services.
Please help me win in November so we can start making immediate changes to improve Florida’s broken healthcare system: Contribute here to help us flip this last Republican seat in Broward.
So far, we have picked up key endorsements from EMILY’s List and Ruth’s List, two of the most influential women's rights and pro-choice organizations in the state.
Now, all we need is you — thank you for stepping up to support my campaign.