Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-35) has become arguably the most influential Democrat in Florida Politics. However, Broward County Commissioner and Mayor Barbara Sharief (D-35) is challenging Book's incumbency in State Senate District 35.
ABC Local 10 News hosted a televised debate that both candidates virtually attended. Sharief kicked off the debate in a fiery fashion when the moderator asked her about her previous statements, where she likened Book to a "Carpet bagger." Sharief stated, "This is an opportunity for minority access. I've been living in this district for 21 years and served it for 13. And what I was responding to was Senator Book's accusation that my running in this race, would hurt, somehow, the Democrats."
Book was also given the chance to clear the air on past claims. Previously, an ad attacked Sharief for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars through the medical providing business she owns. When the moderator clarified it was a civil matter and the money was not stolen, Senator Book held her ground.
"I think it is a big deal, I think when it comes to running a business and you're using taxpayer dollars to care for those who are most vulnerable among us, low-income families and children, you need to be very, very careful about how you spend that money. And she over-billed medicaid. To be very, very clear, she had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay back the over-billing she did. That is very clear, that is a fact," stated Book as she doubled down on her accusations.
Sharief responded with, "There was no over-billing." Sharief added, "Lauren is desperately lying, because she is losing in the polls, and that's why I sued her. I've run and been elected three times since this issue came up, and twice my opponents have brought this issue up and litigated it through the public, without a platform. Lauren has never been elected by the community."
Mayor Sharief added insult to injury to Book, mentioning when she served Senator Book the lawsuit, she was residing in a home outside of District 35. Sharief then stormed out of the televised debate.