When state Sen. Jeff Clemens abruptly resigned his seat in October, it left District 31 without one of the most influential and dynamic voices in the Florida Legislature.
Clemens, an Atlantis Democrat who resigned after admitting to an affair with a lobbyist, had risen to become a Democratic leader in a Republican-dominated Senate.
The Post believes that for Democrats, their best chance of getting back that clout when they go to the polls for a Jan. 30 primary election is state Rep. Lori Berman, of Lantana.
Berman, whose current House District 90 sits entirely within Senate District 31, has risen to be the ranking member on the powerful House Rules and Policy Committee. After four terms in the House — she is term-limited — the 59-year-old knows her way around the halls of the state Capitol and is already a known quantity on big issues like health care, education, the environment and economic growth.
Her opponent, Lantana retiree Arthur Morrison, is an energetic 72-year-old former federal bureaucrat. Morrison, a county native whose graduation from all-black Roosevelt High School took him to Harvard University, said he became “irritated at what President Trump was doing” and jumped at the chance to run when Clemens resigned.
He told The Post Editorial Board that he is determined to protect poor seniors by keeping the “Medicaid-to-work” issue from coming to Florida, prevent any oil and gas drilling off the state’s coast and stop charter schools from siphoning away money from traditional public schools.
Berman agrees with all of those positions, and adds that she wants economic development in the county and throughout the whole state that will produce “jobs that are careers.”
“I voted to support Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida because, among other things I want my children to be able to have good, well-paying jobs,” she said, “that will keep them in our state.”
A major part of attracting those jobs, she said, is bolstering the state’s higher education system — especially community colleges like Palm Beach State College. “We shouldn’t have to support our universities at the expense of our community colleges,” she said.
We admire Morrison’s ambitions, but Berman clearly would be the more effective legislator, one who would need only a minimal learning curve in moving from House to Senate.
In the Republican primary, Palm Beach County Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Tami Donnally is running unchallenged.
The two primary winners will face off in the April 10 general election.