Post endorsements in the Aug. 18 Florida state senate Democratic primary races.

It’s hard to find bipartisanship and collegiality in Tallahassee these days. Former Gov. Rick Scott, and his my-way-or-the-highway governing style pretty much saw to that. And current Gov. Ron DeSantis has only exacerbated it.


What little remains of a willingness to reach across the aisle and craft legislation for all Floridians can mostly be found in the Senate.


The search for bipartisan solutions will become ever more important as the state faces the health, economic and budget realities levied by the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Democrats, who will likely remain in the minority, need that collegial atmosphere if they want to realize any part of their agenda.


>>> Related content: For more Post Editorial Board candidate endorsements.


SENATE DISTRICT 29: In the Aug. 18 primary race to fill the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Kevin Rader, the Post Editorial Board endorses Tina Polsky. The first-term state House member not only has a demeanor well-suited to the Senate but is better prepared to meet the challenges of COVID-19.


Indeed, Polsky has been a leading voice among state Democrats for Republican leadership to bring lawmakers back for a special session to deal with the impacts on unemployment, healthcare and election security. "[Our office] added another legislative aide to deal with just constituents getting their benefits through Florida CONNECT," she told the Editorial Board. "We are basically having to process claims; that’s pathetic."


Her opponent is Irv Slosberg, a 12-year veteran of the Legislature who left office in 2016, then made two failed attempts at the state Senate. Slosberg, best known for helping push through state driver’s education and seatbelt laws, told the Editorial Board that he’s running again because "the state is in a public safety crisis, and I’m a public safety guy."


But Polsky is more ready to hit the ground running to handle a widely expected state budget shortfall in the next legislative session. Slosberg, asked about ideas for budget cuts, says he would rather wait for state Revenue Estimating Conference figures. But Polsky has an immediate answer: eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in newly minted corporate tax cuts and delay funding new "toll roads to nowhere."


Polsky, who currently represents state House District 81, has already passed a boater safety/abandoned vessel cleanup bill. And the Senate passed a version of a bill she introduced (with Rader) in the House that makes Holocaust education mandatory in charter schools.


Because her sprawling House district includes the Glades region, Polsky has cemented more diverse relationships that can be valuable in legislating. Two of her 2020 appropriations requests survived the governor’s veto pen: $250,000 for stormwater improvements in Belle Glade and South Bay.


SENATE DISTRICT 25: For years in this district that covers the northwest portion of Palm Beach County as well as Martin and St. Lucie counties, the most dominant issue has been "water." And for good reason. A lot of the district’s economic livelihood is derived from its rivers and the ocean. And that livelihood has been threatened almost annually by toxic algal blooms starting in Lake Okeechobee.


Candidate Reinaldo D. Diaz promises to make clean water and the environment his top issue in the Senate. The founder of Lake Worth Waterkeeper, which advocates for a healthy Lake Worth Lagoon and its watershed areas, told the Post Editorial Board that the annual Lake O blooms "don’t have to be normal."


"The Florida Legislature has been dropping the ball," he said, "and residents are stuck celebrating receiving a quarter when they should have gotten a dollar." For example, he said the new Clean Waterways Act doesn’t sufficiently address the issues outlined by the state’s own toxic algae task force.


Diaz, born and raised in Palm Beach County, says he would also champion public education funding and stricter growth management. But his candidacy in the general election would be stronger if he currently lived in the senate district.


His primary opponent, Corinna B. Robinson, has lived on the district for only five years but has wasted little time becoming active in the community. The hard-charging, no-nonsense U.S. Army veteran earns the Editorial Board endorsement because, while she will also make water quality a priority, she said the Legislature’s first concern has to be "providing emergency relief and support" during the ongoing pandemic. For example, she said the state can help provide mental health counseling for residents hurting due to the uncertainties surrounding jobs and schools reopening.


Robinson, who spoke up for mandatory masks at both Martin and St. Lucie county commission meetings, accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of downplaying the COVID-19 threat and emphasized the need for quick bipartisan responses to the debilitating crisis.


Among the first bills she’d like to bring to floor: a bipartisan re-do of the ex-felon voter rights implementation bill that is now tied up in the courts. She would also address educational equity and access to affordable healthcare.