Lauren Book wins endorsement from new committee of former state leaders

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A newly formed political committee composed of leaders from all levels of government and a large spectrum of political persuasions threw its weight behind Lauren Book’s re-election bid Tuesday.

Democratic Senate Leader Book’s race to represent Broward County’s Senate District 35 is the first one that the Florida Leadership Council has weighed in on.

The group cited Book’s leadership for “mainstream values” such as education, public safety, private enterprise, personal freedom, racial equity and a sustainable environment in its endorsement.

“Over the course of her time in office, Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book has shown an ability to lead her community, her Caucus Members, and the Florida Senate forward — navigating through fiercely partisan political waters in order to get things done for everyday Floridians, like passing bipartisan gun safety laws and expanding access to health care,” said Bob Butterworth, the state’s longest-serving Attorney General now the Chair of the FLC Political Committee, in a prepared statement.

“Our group of Democratic, independent, and former Republican leaders is proud to endorse Lauren Book for re-election because she is the fighter we need to rebalance the scales in the Florida Senate.”

Book was first elected in 2016, but she has never faced a ballot challenge before. Redistricting put her in the same Senate District as newly elected Sen. Rosalind Osgood, who won her seat in March’s Special General Election.

Book opted to move to Senate District 35 to avoid a Primary, but then former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief filed to run for Senate in the southwest Broward County district.

Book has smashed her own fundraising records, raised money for other candidates and recruited female candidates who are going to stand up for rights that are under threat, said Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich, a former Senator who also served as Senate Democratic Leader.

“Lauren has absolutely shown up for us,” said Rich, who is an advisory board member of the new group. “Now it’s time for us to show up for her.”

The Florida Leadership Council is a new political committee that includes leaders who go back five decades, such as Rep. Murray Dubbin, who served between 1963 and 1974. The members also include Paula Dockery, who served in the Legislature for 16 years as a Republican, but is now an independent.

Rich said the group, which also includes Betty Castor of Tampa, the state’s first woman to serve as President Pro Tempore of the Florida Senate, came together out of a desire to see more cooperation between the Republicans and Democrats. That’s how it was when she was Senate Democratic Leader of just 12 Democrats, she said.

Book said she was grateful to get the nod from the group, which also includes former U.S. Rep. Larry Smith, former Democratic House Speaker John Mills and former Miami Republican Rep. Juan-Carlos Planas, who also left the Republican Party.

“I am deeply honored to have the support of this powerhouse group of leaders who have helped shape our state for the better, including former Cabinet Members, Congressmembers, state lawmakers, Judges, and other principled public servants,” Book’s prepared statement said.

Rich said the group is planning on endorsing more candidates in more legislative races in the days to come.

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