The three-way race for SD 34 pits incumbent Shevrin Jones against an old foe and a newcomer


shevrin jones beat five other Democrats and a write-in candidate to win his Senate seat two years ago. He now faces only two opponents, both from within the ranks of his party, including one who has drawn criticism for comments described as homophobic by critics.

Described by US Rep. charlie christ as “one of brightest young political stars in Florida Politics Today,” Jones used eight years in the Statehouse to win a landslide victory in the Senate in 2020.

He is now up for re-election in Senate District 34, where he will face two former fellow educators. DS34 covers much of northeastern Miami-Dade County, including the municipalities of Bay Harbor Islands, Miami Beach, North Miami, North Miami Beach, and Opa-locka and Miami Gardens, Florida’s most populous black city.

Since winning a seat in the chamber, Jones has maintained a positive presence and positive attitude, working across the aisle to push through measures such as SB 236who has expanded aid eligibility for children with developmental delays in public schools, backing bills to improve how the state treats some of its most underserved peopleand continuing to bring money to his district.

But he doesn’t just get along. After back-to-back legislative sessions in which GOP lawmakers pushed through measures to tighten voting restrictionslimit classroom and workplace discussions about race, gender and sexuality, and draw a new map of Congress that now faces legal challenges about his alleged erasure from black neighborhoods, Jones went on the attack.

In February, he launches Operation Blackout, an initiative to boost mail-in voting registration among black and brown progressives who are registered to vote but do not. He was also among the main organizers of Stay woke, go votewhich among other things aims to draw attention to vote-related actions by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans.

All the while he campaigned and raised funds to avoid the challenges of prison officer turned consultant and entrepreneur Pitchie “Peachy” Escarment and Erhabor Ighodaroformer alderman of Miami Gardens.

Escarment founded four companies in Florida, according to the Companies Division. Her candidacy for SD 34 marks her first time running for public office. As a newcomer to politics, she priority list reflects issues affecting the majority black community of SD 34, including the shortage of affordable housing, criminal justice reform, education, and closer ties between law enforcement and communities of color.

Since filing for office in February, Escarment has raised nearly $24,000, more than 83% of which came from personal loans or donations from family. As of July 29, she had about $4,000 left after covering advertising and signage costs and paying back more than half of the money she added to her campaign coffers.

Ighodaro, whose wife now sits on the Miami Gardens Councilwas among the candidates Jones faced in 2020. During this cycle’s contest, Ighodaro was criticized for anti-LGBTQ remarks some considered to be indirectly targeting Jones, the first openly gay black lawmaker elected to the Legislative Assembly.

“There’s a picture that God says a marriage should look like, a family should look like, and that’s what we’re going to fight for,” Ighodaro said at a campaign event.

Jones took it as a personal dig, but he said it was evidence that Ighodaro lacked the focus needed to deliver to voters.

“People are looking for someone to go to Tallahassee to be their champion, not their judge,” he said on Twitter.

Ighodaro, who ran in 2020 as “the only candidate to fight for our families”, doubled down on his previous comments in an interview with the Herald and was aimed at the transgender community, whose members sometimes request to be addressed by specific pronouns, often “they” and “them”.

“I don’t believe people shouldn’t recognize the difference between a man and a woman,” he said. “I don’t believe in 110 pronouns. Nope!”

A former chief of staff to a former Miami-Dade school board member Robert IngramIghodaro first gained his seat on the Miami Gardens Council by nomination in 2012. He was later re-elected.

Through the end of July, Ighodaro has collected nearly $84,000 between his campaign account and his political committee, Reignbow Florida — held in September 2020 as “Reignbow Family Values” — much of those winnings came from real estate businesses, education professionals, and clergy, as well as a $26,000 personal loan.

Of that, he was left with about $11,000 as of August 1 after heavy spending on consulting, outreach, and publicity, including radio spots on local Haitian-language stations.

Neither challenger is up to Jones’ fundraising. Although Jones technically launched his re-election bid in Mayhe raised $101,000 this cycle thanks to his campaign account alone, plus an additional $521,000 raised through his political committee.

With less than two weeks to go until the primary, he was down to just $30,000 after huge spending on campaign mailings, digital advertisingtrips and advice.

He has also amassed an impressive collection of support from South Florida leaders, including the mayor of Miami-Dade. Daniella Levine Cavamayor of miami gardens Rodney Harris and the mayor of Opa-locka Veronique Williams.

Groups supporting him include SAVE Action PAC, LGBTQ Victory Fund and the Florida Chapter of Service Employees International Union.

Since only one political party is competing in SD 34 this year, the race is an “open” primary in which all voters can vote, regardless of party affiliation. Whoever gets the most votes on August 23 will win the seat.

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