Florida’s Senate Republicans have selected Sen. Ben Albritton (R-26) to be the Senate president for the 2024-2026 term. Currently, Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-10) will serve as Senate president until Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28) takes over for the 2023-2024 legislative sessions.
“It’s a real honor and privilege for me to have earned the support of my colleagues in the Senate,” Albritton (pictured above) said to Florida Politics. “Senator Manny Diaz is a valued colleague and a friend, who puts people above politics. We share a vision for the future of Florida, and we’ll work together in the years ahead to advance policies that are in the best interest of the state of Florida.”
As Albritton mentioned, he beat out Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. (R-36) in a tight battle for succession years in the making.
“We have two strong conservative leaders in our chamber — Senate President Wilton Simpson and Senator Kathleen Passidomo — and I’m going to do everything I can to support them, our priorities and our colleagues,” said Albritton.
Florida Republicans have continued to extend their control over the Florida Legislature for decades, and the move to select the next Senate leaders now ensures conservative leadership for the foreseeable future, assuming Republicans maintain control of the Senate.
While Florida’s Republicans have shown times of rivalry and disagreement, it shows a stark contrast between the controlling party and the opposition, Florida’s Democrats, who have been struggling to find their footing.
In June, The Florida Capital Star reported on Florida’s Senate Democrats struggling with infighting over their own line of succession in minority leadership. Former Florida Senate Democrat Caucus Leader Sen. Gary Farmer (D-34) criticized the incoming leader, Sen. Lauren Book (D-32).
Farmer accused Book of throwing votes to Republicans so they might consider Democratic priority legislation. Farmer continued by saying Florida’s Democrats are experiencing a “battered wife effect.”
Sen. Lori Berman (D-31) said Farmer’s comments about his Democratic colleagues were “disappointing.”
However, some pundits have said the infighting is reflective of Democrats’ success at the polls, which has been sparse. Currently, Democrats only have one statewide elected official, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who won her election by less than 6,753 votes just weeks after Hurricane Michael ravaged the conservative Florida Panhandle.
Albritton’s background is in Florida’s agriculture industry. He is a fifth-generation farmer growing citrus and was elected to his district’s Senate seat in 2018.
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ben and his wife” by Ben Albritton. Background Photo “Florida Senate Office” by Michael Rivera. CC BY-SA 3.0.