|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 14th district
|Preceded by||Steve Oelrich|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 49 district
|Preceded by||John Quiñones|
|Succeeded by||Joe Saunders|
|Born||February 25, 1978|
Darren Michael Soto (born February 25, 1978) is an Orlando-based attorney and Democratic member of the Florida Senate, representing the 14th District, which includes parts of Orange, Osceola, and Polk Counties in central Florida.
Soto was born in Ringwood, New Jersey to a Puerto Rican father and an Italian-American mother. From 1998 to 2001, he worked for Prudential Insurance. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in 2000 and a Juris Doctor from George Washington University in 2004 and opened his law practice the following year.
Florida House of Representatives
In 2006, Soto ran for a seat in Florida House of Representatives from the 40th District, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent State Representative Andy Gardiner. In April 2007, he emerged victorious from a crowded Democratic primary in a special election to replace John Quinones, who had resigned to run for the Osceola County Commission. In the general election, Soto narrowly defeated former State Representative Tony Suarez, the Republican nominee, by 285 votes to win the election. Soto was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2008 and 2010.
During his first two terms, Soto passed legislation in several areas including curbing illegal street racing, protecting families of fallen firefighters, and maintaining school safety. He also fought to protect homeowners' access to the courts in foreclosure proceedings as well as assured adequately funded courts to deal with this unprecedented housing crisis in Florida.
In 2012, Florida Senate districts were redrawn, and Soto opted to run for the newly created 14th District rather than seek re-election in the House. He won his party's nomination uncontested and faced Republican Will McBride, who had previously run for the United States Senate in 2006. Soto won the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel, which praised him as "the rare Democrat who works productively across the aisle," citing his work to get "Central Florida's SunRail commuter system approved." Though the contest was initially thought to be a toughly-fought one, in the end, Soto overwhelmingly defeated McBride, winning over 70% of the vote.
Soto strongly opposed legislation that would allow "[p]rivate online learning companies [to] get a better shot at Florida public school funding," calling it "another way to privatize our public schools." When confronted with legislation that would expedite the execution process for people on death row in Florida, he unsuccessfully proposed an amendment that would "raise the required jury vote from seven to 10 for death penalties," noting that Florida is the only state requiring a simple majority vote by the jury for the death penalty. After the legislature passed a controversial bill that would fast-track the foreclosure process in Florida, Soto urged Governor Rick Scott to veto the legislation, declaring, "In a state that ranks first in the nation for foreclosures, not only does the bill allow homeowners to be evicted more quickly, but if the eviction was through bank fraud, there is no ability to recover the home."
- "6 Democrats vie for Quinones' seat: Winner of March 20 primary faces GOP's Suarez in April". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Senate District 8 Leaning Toward Darren Soto". Sunshine State News. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "For State Senate Districts 12, 13, 14 we endorse...". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Bill opens up funding for private virtual schools". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Timely Justice Act, Measure Speeding Up Executions, Approved By Florida Senate". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Senator asks for veto of fast foreclosure bill". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Florida State Senate - Darren Soto
- Florida House of Representatives Profile
- Project Vote Smart - profile for Darren Soto