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Kathleen Passidomo Names Conservatives to Leadership Team as She Gets Ready to Lead Florida Senate

This week, as she readies to take the gavel, incoming state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, named her leadership team.

Passidomo tapped Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Lady Lake, to serve as president pro tempore.

“Senator Baxley is a man of great personal faith, deeply committed to his family and community. Over more than 50 years of marriage, Dennis and Ginette have welcomed many children and grandchildren into their home, as well as numerous foster children, including several with physical challenges. Many of their foster children have chosen to make their permanent home with the Baxley family, which is a testament to the beautiful family Dennis and Ginette have created,” noted Passidomo. “Senator Baxley’s great respect for the dignity and value of each person is apparent, not only in his personal life, but also in his life’s work as a funeral director where he comforts grieving families, ensuring their loved ones are honored and respected.

“I have served with Senator Baxley throughout my entire time in elected office. We came into the House together in 2010, and were elected to the Senate in 2016. I know he deeply respects each senator, as well as our processes and traditions. Additionally, serving as the pro tempore will be a familiar role for Senator Baxley who served as speaker pro tempore under now U.S. Senator Marco Rubio,” she added.

Passidomo turned to Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, to lead the newly minted Fiscal Policy Committee.

“Over the years, I have watched Senator Hutson master some of the most technical and complicated issues that have come before the Senate. From his work with President Simpson over several terms to negotiate a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, to his passion for protecting the integrity of our elections, enhancing workforce education options, and protecting the rights of small businesses, Senator Hutson has long been a go-to Senator for tough issues and leadership priorities. He has a keen knack for bringing stakeholders to the table, listening, and working to find common ground. Travis shares my vision for the Committee on Fiscal Policy, and I am confident his diverse policy background and institutional knowledge will be a tremendous benefit to the Senate as he chairs this new committee,” Passidomo said.

Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne, will take over the Rules Committee.

“I have asked Leader Mayfield to serve as chair of the Senate Committee on Rules. Senator Mayfield is a loyal advisor, a trusted confidante, and good friend. Like Senator Baxley, I have served with Senator Mayfield throughout my time in both the House and Senate. She has always exhibited sound judgment and a fair-minded, reasonable and thoughtful approach to decision making that, I am confident, will be a great benefit to the Senate over the next two years. Throughout her years of service, Senator Mayfield has gained the respect of senators on both sides of the political aisle by listening to the concerns each Senator brings forward and working to build consensus. She is committed to a thoughtful and fair application of our procedural guidelines that will allow all Senators to advocate for their positions within the confines of the Rules we agree to follow. As a former Rules chair, I understand the responsibilities of the position and appreciate Senator Mayfield’s ability to remain thorough, deliberative, and decisive, regardless of the circumstance,” Passidomo noted. Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola, will lead the Appropriations Committee.

“Senator Broxson and I also share a long history of service together in the House and Senate. I trust his instincts, as well as his decision-making process, particularly when it comes to the budget and have asked him to serve as chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Like Senator Broxson, writing the K-12 budget was my first experience as an Appropriations Subcommittee chair. It is a tough job with no shortage of worthy investments to consider.

Senator Broxson really took time and learned as much as he could about how we teach our students to read. We know identifying a struggling reader early can change a child’s entire life, and I appreciate the passion Senator Broxson has for this critical issue. His approach to the K-12 budget showed me that Senator Broxson is not content with simply re-adopting the status quo. He wants to dig deep and innovate, and that is exactly what we need at this important time in our state,” Passidomo maintained. “I also appreciate the respect Senator Broxson has for each person he meets, even in times of disagreement. He gives great thought and consideration to every issue before him, and I know he will show that same level of care when working with each Senator on their own budget priorities.”

State Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, will take over as Senate majority leader as the GOP controls a supermajority in the chamber.

“One of our colleagues recently spoke of Senator Albritton as the gentleman of the Senate, and I could not agree more. Senator Albritton is soft-spoken, kind, and impeccably courteous to everyone who crosses his path. As a fifth-generation Floridian in a line of farmers, ranchers, citrus growers and business owners who have invested in the rich agricultural heritage of Florida’s heartland, Senator Albritton is certainly the quintessential Florida gentleman. When you meet Senator Albritton, his manners are just the first indication of a life guided by faith and family, and steeped in the history, values, and legacy industries that have made our state famous across the country and around the world,” Passidomo noted.

“Like so many, Senator Albritton answered the call to public service because he saw the impact of government on his family’s business. Throughout his years in the House, and here in the Senate he has always been a strong voice for the private sector businesses who create the jobs families and communities need to thrive. He is an advocate for living within our means and keeping taxes low, because he understands every dollar government has to spend is taken from a family or business who earned it. He is a strong ally for parents because he understands the rights and responsibilities that come with raising a child belong to parents, not the government,” she continued. “This election made it abundantly clear Floridians are tired of the ‘government knows best,’ approach coming from Washington, and are instead looking for leaders who defend the right to parent and the opportunity to build and grow a business. Ben Albritton is that kind of leader. As majority leader, he will be a tremendous asset to our caucus as we work to further the conservative agenda Floridians overwhelmingly supported earlier this month.”

Passidomo also named Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, to her leadership team though she did not assign him a specific role.

“Rounding out my leadership team is my friend and classmate, Senator Perry. Senator Perry is an incredibly successful businessman who built his company from the ground up – or actually from the roof down. Even with his tremendous success, Senator Perry has never forgotten his roots. During the pandemic, he fought hard to keep Florida free and open because he believes in the dignity of work and believes government should never take away the right of a person to provide for their family,” Passidomo noted.

“Senator Perry is often a man of few words, but when he speaks, everyone listens. He has always been a strong advocate for the hardworking, blue-collar men and women of our state, especially skilled laborers who are willing to do the difficult and dangerous work needed to keep our communities growing. His common sense perspective on a variety of issues will be an incredible value to my leadership team,” she added.

The Senate will hold its organization session next week.


  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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