Campaign #123: Andrew Gillum for Governor and Olivia Babis for State Senate in Florida


We will begin writing to Democratic voters in Florida’s State Senate District 23 reminding them how important it is to elect Andrew Gillum as Governor and Olivia Babis as their next State Senator. Since the Tallahassee Mayor Andrew is a well-known public figure, let me use the space I usually reserve for describing the opportunity to focus on Olivia. In fact, what follows is Olivia introducing herself to you in her own words.

Olivia Babis

“I initially had no intentions of running for office this year. I have worked on numerous campaigns and issue advocacy campaigns and thought running for office was one of those things I might do “one day.” I work and I just started a Master’s program in January. These were hardly ideal circumstances for starting a campaign.

“I know how to run a campaign and what it entails. I know how all-consuming it can become when you’re putting in the work. But, this is the year of the Democrat. In particular, this is the year of the Democratic woman.

“Margaret Good just had a big win in my area. So, when my State Senator vacated his seat triggering another special election so he could run for U.S. Congress, an opportunity presented itself that may not present itself again for a long time to come.

“I began looking at the demographics of the district, the issues people were concerned about, and what I might be able to bring to the table. I quickly realized that even though this was still going to be a tough district to win, that I was one of the few people who might actually be able to win this seat. I could relate to my community better than most and I could put forth a message that would resonate across political ideologies.

“If elected, I will be the first person with a physical disability ever elected to the Florida Legislature. Florida currently ranks 46th in the nation for accessibility. Many of our municipalities have been forced to pass transition plans within the past 3-4 years through federal intervention triggered by excessive ADA complaints to the Department of Justice. Approximately 85% of our Fair Housing complaints are due to disability accommodation complaints.

“With the election of President Trump, most Federal departments have been stacked with appointees who are blatantly hostile to the disability community such as Ben Carson at HUD, Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, and Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice. These individuals have extensively rolled back regulations protecting the rights of the disability community. Many previously pending complaints have been tossed out. This has left the disability community with little to no recourse at the Federal level when they face discrimination.

“Things at the state level aren’t any better. The Human Rights Board which mediates disability discrimination complaints filed with the state is stacked with Governor Rick Scott appointees. Governor Scott has also been openly hostile to the disability community. His first action when elected in 2010 was to slash the budget for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities by 15%. This is the state agency that manages the med waiver program that provides Home and Community Based Services for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. This program already has a wait list with 25,000 people on it and most people wait 10 years on the wait list before receiving services.

“Last year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that merged 4 of our med waiver programs together. These included the Long Term Care med waiver, adult Cystic Fibrosis, AIDS, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Some of these programs didn’t previously have wait lists. Now children and adults with a variety of disabilities, as well as our elders, are stuck on a wait list with 52,000 people. Many on this list will never receive services. Roughly 10% of the people on these combined wait lists die every year while waiting to receive services. Florida has one of the longest med waiver wait lists in the country and my opponent, Joe Gruters, voted for the bill that merged the wait lists together for the sake of “efficiency.”

“These are issues that aren’t typically a major platform issue for most candidates, but they’re of critical importance to my district and to the state. The average age of residents in my district is 55. Many in this area are concerned about access to home- and community-based services. They don’t want to be forced out of their homes into nursing homes and ALF’s as they lose the ability to care for themselves independently. They care deeply about the lack of transportation options available in this area, and across the state.

“I’m running to ensure that everyone in our community has representation and to provide a voice for those who have been denied one for far too long. To read more about my reasons for running, you can read my DailyKos blog here:…/17936…/-Making-History-in-Florida

“The People’s PAC helped put together this video about me and the environmental issues we are currently contending with here in FL:

“Thanks for considering writing postcards to my voters. I really believe that with Democratic voters so engaged for turnout for Andrew at the top of the ticket, your reminders will be enough to help voters keep voting down the ballot to find my name and flip this seat!”

Okay. This is Tony again.

It doesn’t take long to realize Olivia is a formidable change agent and will be a formidable legislator. With seats in the last year flipping 18 points and 28 points where no one expected, it is possible to see this State Senate District that Trump won by 14.3% turn blue. We’ve written against the odds before and won. We’ve supported candidates who were heavily outspent and won.

Half of the Florida State Senate is up for election November 6th. Florida has been a Republican “trifecta” since 1998 when they took control of both chambers and the Governor’s mansion. I think Olivia is right. This is a unique chance to flip an open seat. Riding the wave could be just what she and the Democrats there need to win this.

Thanks for considering writing at least 5 postcards to boost winning turnout for both Andrew and Olivia!

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