Republican candidate, Florida Senate District 13
State Senator for District 12 (first elected in 2016)
Former Representative in House (2000-2007, 2010-2016)
Mayor-Administrator, City of Belleview (1982)
Funeral director and consultant
College of Central Florida, A.A., 1972
Florida State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology, 1974
Miami-Dade College, A.S., Funeral Services, 1975
In Senate District 13, Republican incumbent Sen. Dennis Baxley of Eustis, will square off against Democrat Stephanie Dukes of Clermont in the general election since neither face primary challenges. The newly drawn District 13 covers Lake County and southwestern Orange County.
A state senator since 2016, Baxley is known for being one of the original sponsors of the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, which passed in 2005 when he was a member of the state House. He is well known for his conservative stances including being pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
On his campaign website, he lists general support for education, low taxes and senior care. He champions pro-life issues, including adoption and foster care programs.
In this past session, Baxley has introduced or co-introduced a number of bills. Most died in committee with a small handful passing. However, he sponsored the Senate version of a bill signed into law that awarded $7.5 million to Orlando woman Christeia Jones, whose car collided with a state trooper’s vehicle when he misjudged a U-turn. The incident, which occurred in 2014, left her three young sons with severe injuries. One medical assessment estimated it would cost $12.5 million to cover future medical care for two of the sons. In 2018, Jones and the state initially settled for $18 million, but, in January, she agreed to 40 percent of the settlement.
Another bill that he sponsored called "Parental Rights in Education" (SB 1834), officially died in committee. But a similar version in the House (HB 1557), popularly known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, passed the legislature and was signed into law. Baxley is an outspoken advocate for the law that has attracted national attention and which critics say ban classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through the 3rd grade.
In February, Baxley said such instruction wasn't "age-appropriate" and that parents were being ignored. “There’s a reorientation going on in our culture, maybe some of it’s very good. But parents have a parent role, and it’s being ignored. I think when you start opening sexual type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone.”
However, PolitiFact reported that the Florida Department of Education confirmed that sexual orientation and gender identity “are not included” in curriculum taught in the state’s K-3 classrooms. PolitiFact also cited a Florida professor who said she was “not aware of any K-3 grade teacher that is campaigning or ‘social engineering’ students to be LGBTQ such that it could be studied to tell whether or not such a campaign could be successful.”
PolitiFact staff said it tried to get Baxley to provide evidence of this "social engineering," but he never responded to their request.
The Advocate in a recent story about the law said Baxley has a "deeply anti-LGBTQ+ record." Journalist Joe Henderson in a commentary about the "Don't Say Gay" bill in February wrote that Baxley "is never shy about sponsoring looney laws" and was once the only vote against removing the statue of a Confederate general as a representative of Florida in the U.S. Capitol. However, Baxley later did vote to replace the statue.
Another bill that Baxley sponsored but failed to pass was one that critics described as “union-busting.” The bill would have mandated public employees, including teachers and other government workers (but not police, firefighters, corrections and probation officers), to annually sign membership authorization forms otherwise they would be purged from the rolls. It would’ve also removed the option for union members to have dues automatically deducted from paychecks. Baxley described it as “paycheck protection,” giving employees power over their union and improving transparency, according to Florida Politics.
In the past, Baxley has sponsored legislation that would have allowed Florida schools to teach “different worldviews” on issues like evolution and climate change. He also claimed that abortion has led to immigrants replacing Western Europeans.
"When you get a birth rate less than two percent, that society is disappearing," Baxley said on Miami's WLRN. "And it's being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don't wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children. So you see that there are long-range impacts to your society when the answer is to exterminate.”
Baxley has received endorsements from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Retail Federation, Florida Realtors PAC, Florida Medical Association and Florida Right to Life PAC, among others.