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Termed-Out Baxley names preferred successor

Instant Photo Poster
Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Thursday, April 13, 2023


House file photo

Sen. Dennis Baxley endorsed Rep. Keith Truenow (above) in his state senate run as a "true conservative ... on the front lines of Florida’s fight with the blue state woke liberals."

State Sen. Dennis Baxley of Eustis tapped fellow Republican Rep. Keith Truenow of Lake County to succeed him in representing Senate District 13, which includes Windermere, Florida Politics reported earlier this week.

Baxley, a hardline conservative who sponsored the 2005 Stand Your Ground law, has spent the last seven years in the Florida Senate where he is now president pro tempore. He faces term limits next year.

Baxley said he couldn’t be prouder to endorse Truenow, who chairs the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, according to Florida Politics.

“Keith is a true conservative and has been on the front lines of Florida’s fight with the blue state woke liberals. Whether it was helping pass permitless carry, removing layers of duplicative government, or backing the Governor — Florida is more free because of Keith Truenow.”, he told the publication in an interview.

Even with Baxley’s blessing in the bag, Truenow still has to win the Republican primary, which as Florida Politics noted, already has other contenders — Clermont City Councilperson Ebo Entsuah, Winter Garden resident Bowen Kou, founder of the pan-Asian supermarket chain Fresh International Market and Cheryl “CJ” Blancett of Umatilla, entrepreneur and self-described “Gladiator for the U.S. Constitution.”

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Stephanie Dukes, who ran unsuccessfully against Baxley during the midterms, in the general election.

Truenow was first elected in 2020 and then re-elected last year. He currently represents District 26.

Originally from St. Cloud, Minn., Truenow, who is a Tavares resident, has been living in Florida since 1979. He attended Leesburg High School and was in the Air Force. He is the founder of Lake Jem Farms, a sod producer in Mount Dora and also serves on the boards of the Turfgrass Producers of Florida, Lake County Farm Bureau, the Lake County Fair Association and the Harris Chain of Lakes Restoration Council.

Truenow describes himself as a “conservative Republican,” according to his campaign website. He is anti-abortion at “any stage of gestation,” he wrote on a 2020 questionnaire for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is also pro-gun. He voted for the permitless carry bill that was signed into law April 3 and supported a measure to lower the age to purchase guns and an earlier bill to allow firearms in houses of worship.

He supported the Stop WOKE Act, Parents Rights in Education (that critics call “Don’t Say Gay”) and the so-called Don’t Say Period bill, which, among other things, prevents the teaching of sexual and reproductive health until the 6th grade even though it’s not uncommon for 3rd graders to experience their first period.

Truenow also voted for legislation that would punish demonstrators who protest in front of private residences with jail and fines, raise the required percentage of elector votes, to 66.77 percent from 60 percent, to amend the state Constitution, prohibit removal of any of the state’s remaining 77 Confederate monuments and designate Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Day."

And in a bit of quirky bi-partisanship, he co-sponsored a bill to name strawberry shortcake with Florida whipped cream the state’s official dessert.

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