2nd update: Sen. Gary Farmer has resigned his role as Senate Democratic leader. His announcement around 2 pm. said Orange County Sen. Bobby Powell, leader pro tempore, is the new leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus through the end of Farmer’s term in 2022, per Senate and Caucus rules. The Caucus later voted to elect Broward County Sen. Lauren Book as their new leader. She already was in line to become Minority Leader for the 2022-24 term. Sen. Powell did not sign the Caucus letter documenting the vote.
Two days before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn, Democratic Senate lawmakers clashed Wednesday over a piece of legislation related to secrecy and searches used to pick university presidents.
The clash ended with Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, who represents part of Broward County, no longer in his leadership post.
In a no-confidence vote, the Senate Democratic lawmakers pushed Farmer out of his position, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
With Farmer no longer in the post, State Sen. Lauren Book, also representing Broward, announced she will serve immediately as the Minority Leader in the state Senate.
Last week, Book was elected by her Senate peers to be Minority leader for the 2022-24 term.
The dispute launched Wednesday morning when Senate Democrats were in their caucus meeting. State Sen. Shevrin Jones, representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, discussed a concern about Minority Leader Farmer.
Jones said that it was brought to his attention that Farmer spoke to the media in a way that implied Jones was going to switch his vote on the university secrecy bill, according to the Florida Phoenix. Jones expressed frustration at Farmer in front of colleagues in the caucus meeting.
Farmer said during the meeting that he didn’t mention Jones’ name in connection with a possibility of reconsidering the vote on the university bill.
The situation was related to a vote on Tuesday, when the Senate voted 25 to 15, killing the university presidential-search secrecy bill because it fell short of the 2/3 requirement to pass a public records exemption.
After Jones complained about Farmer, and Farmer denied the allegation, the broadcast of the caucus meeting went dark, according to the Phoenix. When the broadcast resumed, Jones, Book and Sen. Audrey Gibson were visibly angry, and Gibson said she knew of no reason why the caucus would reconsider its vote killing the bill making presidential searches secret.