Daisy Morales files for 2024 grudge match against ouster, Rita Harris

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Freshman Rep. Daisy Morales is back in the running for House District 44. But this time, she’s eyeing a 2024 return.

The Orlando Democrat lost her first re-election bid last month to Rita Harris, who will represent this district beginning in November after winning the winner-take-all Democratic Primary with 54% of the vote.

In a news release from Morales’ campaign, she said donors and voters from across the aisle “expressed their outrage” to the ousted lawmaker that her seat was “being given” to a candidate with no prior legislative experience.

“District 44 and the Florida House deserve a Hispanic voice that represents the people. Experience and diversity matter,” Morales said. “House District 44 will need more than just an activist and noisemaker like Rita Harris in Tallahassee.”

Much of the Democratic establishment lined up behind Harris and against Morales. They pushed a candidate with a platform of progressive positions on issues from abortion access to gun violence, against a freshman Representative who has been accused of frequently annoying her party’s leadership with her votes and unreliability on front-line Democratic issues.

Morales has broken with her party on a handful of major bills, like the 2021 tax bill and legislation to ban employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines. However, Morales noted her high score this year on the progressive Florida’s People First Report Card, which gave her a 97% record. In 2021, the report scored her at 88%.

Harris drew the backing of gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Charlie CristRuth’s List Florida, Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado, Orlando State Attorney Monique Worrell, state Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando, and state Sen. Jason Pizzo of Miami, among others.

Morales is the first to file for HD 44 in the 2024 election. She delivered her campaign documents to the Department of State’s Division of Elections office in Tallahassee on Thursday.

Democrats Reps. Allison Tant, Christine Hunschofsky and Felicia Robinson have similarly filed for 2024 bids already. However, those three will serve a 2022-24 term after running unopposed this year. Harris has not yet filed for re-election.

“The primary election is over,” Morales said, “But our work is far from over. I was the target of Hispanic leaders who chose to turn their back on their own community in an effort to forfeit this seat to pretty much anyone else — because that’s the message they sent on August 23rd. What has long been a Puerto Rican seat is pretty much anyone’s seat now.

“I won’t stand for that. Our community deserves to be represented in District 44, and one thing about us as Hispanics, especially Puerto Ricans, is that we will be heard, no matter what, and we know the power of our vote, especially in Central Florida.”

Morales touted legislative victories and a history of working with the Republican majority to secure tax exemptions, a proposed specialty license plate supporting Down Syndrome awareness and more, including legislation education opportunities for disabled veterans that she is working with a Louisiana Republican to bring to his state.

“This district is an economic engine that requires an effective lawmaker that has a history of getting results in the form of bills being signed into law benefiting Floridians and funding coming back to the district. Rita Harris has none,” Morales said. “District 44 needs a representative that is not bogged down in massive IRS debt, is open about their employment history, and can speak to both the English and Hispanic communities.”

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