Florida Senate – Courtesy: Shutterstock — Cheri Alguire
Naples Republican Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) has been formally named Senate President-designate. Once she takes charge of the Senate next year, she will officially be the third woman in the state’s history to lead the chamber.
After being selected by Republican senators to become president after the 2022 elections, Passidomo, 68, praised the efforts of several state leaders to put Florida “well on our way to recovery” as it undergoes a second year of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“You know, I’ve practiced law for 40-some years now and when I first started practicing I was the only woman in the room. And my whole thought was I either join them or I get locked out. So I worked with my male colleagues and was able to have a successful career and I anticipate doing the same thing here in the Senate,” Passidomo said.
On Tuesday, Passidomo told a group of reporters that she sees herself as a lawmaker — not a “woman” lawmaker. She also said that she is proud to serve as a role model for young women and hopes to see more women elected as leaders in the Senate as well as the House.
Passidomo will follow in the footsteps of senators Toni Jennings (R-Orlando) and Gwen Margolis (D-Miami).
In 1990, Margolis became the first woman to serve as the President of the Florida Senate and spent over four decades in public office before retiring from the Senate in 2016. She passed away on June 9, 2020.
In 1996, Toni Jennings was elected President. She remained in the role through 2000 and is the only person in modern history to serve two consecutive terms as Senate President. Jennings then became the first woman Lt. Governor before retiring in 2007.
Passidomo said she has already discussed and consulted Jennings about her new role in office.
“She’s as feisty as can be and gave me some really good ideas,” Passidomo said.
Passidomo also drew many comparisons with California, a common target amongst several Florida Republicans.
“We must keep energy affordable and reliable. We must support our farmers, for they produce the food we eat and the nutrients we drink,” Passidomo said during a Republican caucus meeting in the Senate chamber. “We must demand affordable housing so that our workforce has a safe place to rest at night and care for their families. We must ensure that our healthcare system can care for the sick and injured. We must protect the vulnerable from bad actors who prey on them. And we must do all of this while protecting and preserving what makes Florida so special — its beauty, its land, its water, and its wildlife.”
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