Florida Politics: Fentrice Driskell names House Democrats’ leadership team

House Democrats will be fighting against a historic Republican majority.

House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell named an all-South Florida group of Representatives to lead the Democratic Caucus Monday, with Miami Rep. Dotie Joseph at the forefront as the Democrats’ Leader Pro Tempore.

This upcoming term, Democrats are more marginalized than ever. Republicans won a supermajority of seats in Midterm Elections earlier this month. That group will form the Republicans’ largest Conference since Reconstruction, giving them the right to control amendments, limit debate time and even the right to waive all rules.

Driskell of Tampa highlighted her team’s fighting spirit in a news release Monday

“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” Driskell said. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

Also on the Democratic Caucus leadership team announced Monday are:

— Boca Raton Rep. Kelly Skidmore, serving as Policy Chair.

— Davie Rep. Mike Gottlieb, serving as Floor Leader.

— Parkland Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, serving as Whip.

There are 35 Democrats in the House and 85 Republicans.

Driskell said she’s known Joseph since the two were at Georgetown University Law together. Joseph, now in her third term in the House, will be stepping in when Driskell is unavailable. Driskell called her an invaluable asset for defending Florida’s from “extremist Republican policies.”

“She has always been a consistent champion for justice,” Driskell said in her prepared statement announcing the leadership team. 

As Policy Chair, Skidmore, who’s served a total of six years in the House during two different stints, will be leading bill discussions before the House at Caucus meetings, Driskell said. The role taps into Skidmore’s policy knowledge, Driskell said.

“Rep. Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member,” Driskell said.

Gottlieb, meanwhile, will oversee making sure that Democrats get the debate that’s coming to them, Driskell said. This will be his third term in the House.

“What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments,” Driskell’s statement said. “Rep. Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”

As Democratic Whip, Hunschofsky will be in charge of making sure all the Democrats know what’s going on. She’s going into her second term, but has already stood out, Driskell said.

“Not only does Rep. Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former Mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care,” Driskell said. “I know Rep. Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two years.”

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