Tampa Rep. Fentrice Driskell Becomes First Black Woman to Lead Florida House Democrats

Tampa State Rep. Fentrice Driskell is making history as the first Black woman elected to lead the Florida House Democrats. She will take the reins in the 2024-2026 term.

Driskell won Tampa’s District 63 in 2018 by about 5,000 votes. And her current term expires in 2022, which means she’d need to win reelection in the swing district to become leader. But at 42, the Winter Haven-born lawyer is a rising star in state politics.

She said becoming leader-designate is an honor and shows the world is paying more attention to Black women and the role they play in politics.

“I’m just so glad to get to be a part of that narrative and be a part of that story. And to have this chance to work for a brighter future for all Floridians,” she said. “And really just leverage this platform to continue breaking down barriers and hopefully inspire more young people to want to run for office, and women of color to do it. If they see me doing it, hopefully, they’ll think that they can do it too.”

Trailblazer

Peter Schorsch runs the news website Florida Politics. He selected Driskell as one of the 2021 Session’s winners and said she’s already a trailblazer in the Florida legislature.

“Rarely do you see someone engender the kind of respect from their colleagues at such an immediate level,” Schorsch said. “And she’s done that.”

Driskell is currently the House Democratic Caucus Policy Chair. She’s also the Democratic ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and has a number of other committee assignments. Driskell was one of the most vocal opponents to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s HB1 “anti-protest or “anti-riot” bill (depending on how you look at it), which is now law. She also championed a suite of police reform bills and was able to pass many of those reforms through in HB 7051 with bi-partisan support.

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SOURCE: WMNF, Daniel Figueroa IV

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