Updated — D’s Looming Big Fight: Replacing Katie Edwards-Walpole in Fl House






The decision this week by State Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole not to run again will become a test whether progressives can win her heavily-Democratic seat in heavily-Democratic Broward County.

Edwards-Walpole, D-Plantation, is a moderate much admired in Tallahassee for her willingness to work with Republicans to pass bills like a medical marijuana measure, which she sponsored.




Katie Edwards-Walpole


But Edwards-Walpole’s legislative successes with the help of Republicans rankled Broward’s progressive Democratic Chair Cynthia Busch.

Edwards-Walpole worked with GOP legislators and Busch apparently preferred progressive purity over results. In the worst kept secret in Broward Democratic politics, Busch tried to sabotage Edwards-Walpole behind-the-scenes for years.

Now Plantation and Davie-based Florida House District 98 is open. It will be a fight between the two opposite sides of the Democratic Party’s philosophy.

The seat, which includes Davie and Plantation, has 50,094 Democrats, 28,200 Republicans and 32,225 independents.  Edwards-Walpole’s father Bruce Edwards is a former Plantation City Commissioners.

Edwards-Walpole spent $173,532 winning the open seat in 2012.  The loser of the Democratic primary, Louis Reinstein, spent $88,111.

Will Democrats choose a candidate who huffs and puffs Democratic pieties, but largely comes up empty when all those GOP votes are counted? Or will they pick a candidate like Edwards-Walpole, who can talk to the GOP leadership and bring home accomplishments.



Katie Edwards-Walpole in a discussion with Republican State Reps. Tom Goodson of Merritt Island, (seated) and Brad Drake of Eucheeana. 


Possible candidates being whispered about at this point are (in no particular order):

  • Reinstein, a Plantation attorney. He ran losing campaigns for state House against Edwards-Walpole and a later one for Plantation commission. (A few hours after this was posted, Reinstein announced he was running.)
  • Stephanie Myers, a veteran of the women’s equality and anti-Trump movement. She is now running for House District 93, which has a strong women’s equality candidate Emma Collum. Myers could switch to District 98, a district that has more than 10,000 more female voters than male and no strong women’s equality candidate now.
  • Scott Kjelson, a pharmacy professor at Nova Southeastern University and former U. S. Navy medic. He would have an understanding of health care issues and he is said to be the favorite of several legislators.

Others include: Mary Croft Mariutto, a former Miami radio journalist who was later a congressional press secretary; local attorney Michael Gottlieb and Davie resident Elaine Miller Geller, who considered running previously.

The campaign will determine where the candidates stand.

A supporter of Bernie Sanders, Busch is firmly in the progressive camp and is said to be looking for a hard left candidate.

just what can Busch’s support bring to the table?

Party rules forbid Busch from openly supporting one Democrat over another.

She also has proven a toothless tiger in Edwards-Walpole’s case. She spend years trying to topple Edwards-Walpole without any success.

And since Busch took over in 2016, the party organization has largely disappeared from day-to-day public view. In contrast, Busch’s predecessor Mitch Ceasar was a very visible voice of the Broward Democratic Party.

Example: It was the outspoken Ceasar who gave the best received speech about gun control at Democratic-rich Kings Point complex in the wake of Parkland slaughter. Not Busch.

My take: Busch’s support counts for almost nothing.

Edwards-Walpole will also be involved in the campaign: “I will endorse and campaign for the candidate who I believe will be the best, however, and will be available to be a resource if and as needed.”

Whoever wins the seat in the Democratic primary in August, Edwards-Walpole will be hard to replace.

In addition to medial marijuana which was strengthened by a statewide referenduym, Edwards-Walpole is credited by the Sunshine State News with “criminal justice reform, backing measures that would give judges more sentencing discretion and supporting rehabilitation programs and prison reforms; a syringe-exchange pilot program in Miami-Dade County that sought to reduce rates of infection among intravenous drug users; and ending Florida’s sales tax on menstrual products like Tampax.”

Edwards-Walpole said the following on Facebook, where she announced her departure:

“Today, I made the decision to not seek reelection for State Representative.

“It has been an absolute honor to represent the good people of Davie, Plantation and Sunrise for the past six years. I will always treasure the relationships and friendships formed, and I am eternally grateful to everyone who has supported, mentored and encouraged me along the way, from my first House campaign in 2010 to present.

“I would be remiss if I did not thank a group that has been with me- walking side by side with me since my first campaign, and that is the firefighters. I consider an honor to have made lifelong friends with firefighters from Hialeah, Miami, Sunrise, Davie and Metro-Dade. You each are so special to me, and it’s been an honor to fight for you.
“The reason for my decision is simple. I was so blessed to marry the love of my life in December, and my commitment and priority is spending more time with my family. Public service requires extensive time away from family and work, and I know I will truly enjoy being a fully present wife, stepmother and aunt while continuing to be active in my community.

“Thank you all for the friendship and support. It has been my honor to serve you.”

6 Responses to “Updated — D’s Looming Big Fight: Replacing Katie Edwards-Walpole in Fl House”

  1. Eastside says:

    Louis Reinstein lost Plantation so how is he expected to win Plantation AND Davie

  2. Reinstein's Seat to Lose says:

    Out of everyone you mentioned Buddy the candidate to beat would be Reinstein. Even though he was the underdog in his two prior races he ran very respectable campaigns and has deeper roots in that district than anyone else you mentioned.

  3. Peter Piper says:

    Professor Kjelson is a newcomer not tied to any politics or bullshit. Tallahassee needs more Kjelson’s and no more retreads because they have spent fifty years screwing up this state.

  4. Plantation Democratic Party says:

    You were too soft on the Busch versus Edwards feud, Buddy. Maybe Edwards could care less.. Busch hates Edwards for besting her in 2012 and will never forgive the woman.

  5. Good Riddance says:

    Edwards is not a moderate she is a phoney and a fraud goodbye

  6. Resident of 98 says:

    I feel Reinstein is the best choice. He’s very ethical and knowledgeable. Most importantly, he stayed engaged after both elections as oppose to sulking and trolling on social media. Furthermore, he barely lost Plantation to an incumbent. Louis is exactly the type of person I want to represent me and my family in Tallahassee.

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