Ausley survives stiff challenge for state Senate seat

Lorrane Ausley. Photo courtesy

Florida’s state Senate, under Republican rule since 1998, is composed of 40 seats. There were 20 seats up for re-election on this year’s ballot including Florida’s Third District, currently represented by Democratic Senator Bill Montford of Tallahassee.

After a hard fight, Senate District 3 will remain blue for at least another two years as Democratic lawmaker Loranne Ausley turned back Marva Preston, a GOP newcomer.

FloridaPolitics called this race “one of the most contentious, expensive and high-profile races in the state.” Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to heavily promote the stances of both candidates on television, print media and radio.

Ausley collected an unofficial 136,944 votes compared to 119,836 for Preston, according to Florida Politics.

Democrats make up nearly 53% of the district’s 338,000 registered voters, while Republicans  make up about 30%, according to a state Division of Elections report.

“My family and I spent the last day of the campaign together touring this beautifully diverse 11-county district,” Ausley shared with FloridaPolitics. “Having spent my life in the Big Bend, it is truly an honor that the citizens of Senate District 3 have put their trust in me to serve as their next senator.

She described her campaign trail as an “emotional rollercoaster” as she was faced with many false accusations created by the Republican Party of Florida.

The negative ads focused on the Florida Democratic Party’s receipt of more than $350,000 in federal funds provided to assist small businesses during the pandemic. Ausley said that she wants all constituents, even those who voted against her, to feel represented in the Florida Senate.

Her competition, Marva Preston, is a retired Miami police officer from Crawfordville who was endorsed by former FSU football coach, Bobby Bowden, and Governor Ron DeSantis. With the support of the governor, this raised concerns on whether the seat would remain blue.

Preston’s notable endorsements were no match to Ausley’s unwavering support from Obama, Rep. Ramon Alexander and Congressman Al Lawson. Ausley has served as a state Representative for House District 9 since 2016. She also served as a Florida House member from 2000 to 2008.

Aliki Moncrieg of Florida Conservation Voters commended Ausley for her big win, saying that she has a proven track record of public service that displays her commitment to protecting voters in North Florida.

Members who are voted into the Florida state Senate will serve four years with term limits. Senate District 3 includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties.