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Florida's First Out Latino State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith Loses

Carlos Guillermo Smith
Photo by Gerado Mora/Getty Images

Smith has been a vocal critic of Gov. Ron DeSantis and his anti-LGBTQ+ politics.

A red-wave cut short the career of Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the state's first out Latino legislator.

Smith was running for a fourth term in the Florida House of Representatives but lost to Republican Susan Plasencia. She attacked the progressive lawmaker's "wokeism," a frequent target of anti-LGBTQ+ Gov. Ron DeSantis in the past two years.

Unofficial final election results showed Plasencia won 52.23 percent of the vote to Smith's 47.77 percent.

The Orlando lawmaker first won office in 2016, shortly after the Pulse massacre devastated Orlando's queer and Latinx communities. He has since fought for the community, regularly wearing a Pulse rainbow ribbon during his public service.

Since his election, Smith served as one of the most visible and vocal members of the Florida Legislature. During his tenure, Smith became a high-profile critic of Florida's "don't say gay" law. He at one point faced accusations of bullying less progressive members of the Democratic caucus, but for the most part maintained a strong following among Florida Democrats.

He also publicly became engaged to his now-husband Jerick Mediavilla at Orlando Pride.

Redistricting this year left Smith in a precarious position, with his University of Central Florida-centered district now reaching into conservative areas of Seminole County. Indeed, Smith won his home precincts in Orange County but lost to Plasencia only in areas where he has not represented in the past.

Plasencia notably is the sister to former Rep. Rene "Coach P" Plasencia, who during his eight years in the Legislature was among the more pro-LGBTQ+ lawmakers in the Republican caucus.

Rene Plasencia resigned his seat earlier this year for professional reasons but voted against measures like the "don't say gay" bill even while speaking in favor of a ban on transgender girls in scholastic women's sports.

Susan Plasencia has faced questions about whether she actually lived in the district.

"I'm honored to be elected as State Rep for Florida's 37th District. We are all Americans, we are all Floridans. Now we begin the process of #WorkingTogether as we move Florida forward!" she posted on Facebook.

Shortly after polls closed, Smith tweeted he was proud of his campaign.

"So proud of the authentic campaign we ran for #HD37! Thanks to over 300+ #TeamCarlos volunteers, we knocked on over 19K doors, made over 25K calls and sent 500K+ texts to voters!" he posted. "We left it all on the field. Most of all, we gave people hope for a Florida we can be proud of."

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