Following his historic election last week, Republican state Sen.-elect Corey Simon said he is ready to join Gov. Ron DeSantis to “protect the sovereignty” of Florida.
Simon last week ousted veteran Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley for a seat representing Tallahassee and the surrounding area.
In doing so, he became the first black Republican to represent the state capital in the Legislature since immediately after the Civil War.
In his first interview since winning last week, the longtime former NFL star said he believes he won because he focused on issues that mattered to everyday Floridians. DeSantis had endorsed Simon, who before the election had led Volunteer Florida, a state agency.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity to serve these folks. And all the historic stuff that’s centered around me or my race, I really don’t take a lot of thought in it. What it does do, for those young black men and young black women that have that more conservative viewpoint, you know, it shows them that it’s possible,” Simon told the conservative website Florida’s Voice.
“And so from a barrier-breaking standpoint, I’m excited to do that for them. It’s really not about me, it’s about the folks that are coming behind me and making sure that we’re able to have voices in every room and be okay with it.”
Simon added that he believed his constituents in Senate District 3 will be excited for him to “have a seat at the table.”
Simon will be part of the Republican supermajority in the state Senate. The Florida House is also more than two-thirds Republican after last week.
Simon said he would put his district “on the menu at that table.”
“I think they will start to see the difference in actually having a voice that can get some things done and I’m excited to get after it,” he added.
Simon said one priority for him is developing workforce training to help employers struggling to fill blue-collar jobs.
“I think that we’re gonna be able to be really impactful” in that area, he said. “I still think there’s a need to make sure that we’re working with our Democratic colleagues. I don’t profess to know everything but I do profess to work with folks that know more than I do through this process. If it’s a Democrat, fantastic. If it’s a Republican, fantastic. We’ve just got problems to solve regardless of party.”
“The prize has never been the driving force for me,” he added. “It’s sitting down with folks throughout this district and having those conversations about, okay what are the problems that you’re seeing? How can we be of service? Those are the things that I look back on in the campaign and say, ‘Those are the wins right?’ It wasn’t election night. It was the process of getting to election night and getting to the win.”
Following that interview, Simon appeared on Fox News on Saturday to discuss the future of the Republican Party.
He suggested that lies in Florida.
“I think the party needs to take a look at what the state of Florida has done,” Simon said.
“What our great governor has done is kept the state open during COVID, really focused on the family, having the say-so over their kids’ lives, really focused on freedom. I can’t speak to the rest of the country, but it’s important to protect the sovereignty of the great state of Florida, and that’s what I was elected to do.”
Simon added that the GOP nationally needs to exhibit more of the decisive leadership demonstrated by DeSantis and other Florida Republicans.
“I think the weak-kneed approach is not working. Our governor here, our elected officials here, have done an amazing job of really focusing on things that matter to the American people, and to the people of this state,” said Simon.