Tom Keen Scores Surprising Victory in Florida

( – A Democrat has pulled off a remarkable victory in solidly red Florida. Tom Keen managed to flip a Republican state house seat and is now a member of the Florida legislature. His win will help ease Democrat fears about November’s presidential election, but does a narrow win at the state level say much about the race for the White House?

Last June, State Representative Fred Hawkins (R), who represented Florida’s District 35, stepped down early so he could take up an offer to be president of South Florida State College. That meant a special election had to be held to replace him, and US Navy veteran Tom Keen was the Democrat candidate in that election.

Throughout his campaign, Keen focused heavily on two issues — abortion and home insurance. His message didn’t seem to cut through with conservative voters, but he did manage to attract over 65% of the district’s independents. He also benefited from significant financial support, as the Democrats threw everything they could at the district. In the end, that was enough to push him to a 51.3% victory over his GOP rival, teacher Erika Booth.

More observant Democrats have been getting increasingly nervous as the campaign for November’s presidential election starts to heat up. President Biden is struggling in the polls, with the latest numbers showing former president Donald Trump three to four points ahead. Keen’s victory gives them something to be more positive about — but that might not be justified.

Another factor that worked in Keen’s favor was annoyance with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who faced criticism from both candidates over the scheduling of the special election. Unless something changes dramatically between now and the election, DeSantis isn’t a threat to Biden. Trump is almost certain to be the GOP candidate, and while Keen did well to flip a Florida seat, that doesn’t mean much for Biden’s campaign.

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