Another Democrat will challenge Republican Corey Simon for his Big Bend state Senate seat in 2024.
Sheria Griffin, a long-time teacher in Leon and Gadsden counties and local Florida Educators Association union leader, has filed to run for the former NFL player’s District 3 seat.
Consisting of a host of north Florida counties and including the City of Tallahassee, the district was long held by Democrats until Simon flipped it last year after receiving a large amount of Republican support and a down year in turnout statewide for Democrats. The flipping of the seat helped give Republicans a supermajority in the Florida Senate.
With experience as an educator since 2005, Griffin took aim at Simon’s education record in a statement to City & State, pointing out his sponsoring of SB 202, which expanded the state’s school voucher program and was criticized by the FEA, or Florida Education Association.
“In my work with educators, students and public school families, I see the damage an extreme state government agenda does, including reckless pro-privatization legislation without regulations like SB 202 and its negative impact on taxpayers, families and students all across North Florida,” she said.
She also criticized Simon’s support of legislation targeting "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion" initiatives in higher education, saying it was out of step with the values of his constituents and worked against the integrity of the two universities that call his district home.
“The people of this district overwhelmingly support diversity, equity, and inclusion; we oppose political influences restricting educational freedoms. That’s not freedom," Griffin said.
Ultimately, she accused Simon of just voting with his party and ignoring the issues she believes are most important to voters in District 3, including the homeowner’s insurance crisis, protecting local waterways and more.
“I want more than anything to bring the interests, desires and dreams of the people back to politics. It seems that we the people have been forgotten in the political process, which is evident in the policies being passed,” she said.
She is not the only Democrat who has filed to challenge Simon so far. Kimblin NeSmith, chair of the Gadsden County Commission, filed in June to run for the seat.
Simon and Loranne Ausley, the Democrat who held the seat before being ousted by Simon in 2022, did not respond to requests for comment on Griffin’s candidacy and the state of the race in District 3 in 2024.
Griffin seems to already have the attention of one local Democratic Party figure.
Ryan Ray, chair of the Leon County Democratic Party, said it's a good thing that an experienced educator like Griffin entered the race.
“Sheria offers voters a great chance to elect a State Senator who actually represents our region’s values, not the radical right-wing agenda of Ron DeSantis and MAGA Republican legislative leaders,” Ray told City & State.