Racial Analysis: Florida House District 72

In Florida’s District 72 home race, Democrat Roberts Guy Dameus will challenge Republican incumbent Tommy Gregory.

District 72 is a largely rural area that includes the majority of Manatee County’s landmass and part of rural Sarasota County, though none of the densely populated urban centers (see map at right).

Dameus is from Haiti, where he served as secretary of the Global Initiative for Health and Development in the country. He has been heavily involved with the non-profit organization Stand Up for Haiti since immigrating to the United States in 2015 and works as a handyman specializing in HVAC work.

Gregory served in the Air Force for 20 years, primarily as a prosecutor in the JAG Corps. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring in 2014. After leaving the military, Gregory spent 10 months doing missionary work in the Dominican Republic. Since arriving in the area, he has served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, St. Martha’s Catholic School and the Sarasota Republican Club.

After the redistricting kicked him out of what was then District 73, Gregory and his family moved so he could try to retain a seat in the new District 72. First elected in 2018, he stood is Gregory’s second re-election bid.

On the legislative front, Gregory focused much of his attention on infrastructure issues. Otherwise, he has been in tune with the far-right conservative wing that has dominated Republican politics in Florida in recent years. Gregory has voted with the party on every controversial bill, including the so-called Don’t Say Gay Bill, Governor DeSantis’ proposed “election reforms,” ​​SB 1078, a particularly egregious bill that greatly restricts who can sit on district soil and water conservation boards, as well as the anti-roof solar bill and the local business protection act – two Republican-led bills that were so bad that Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed them.

Dameus says if elected, he will focus on lower gas taxes, gun reform and affordable housing, among other issues largely targeted at low-income, working-class Floridians. However, Dameus has essentially raised no money and faces an extremely well-funded starter in a solidly red district, meaning it would be a huge understatement to say he faces a tall order.

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