David H. Simmons
|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 9th district
November 2, 2010
|Preceded by||Lee Constantine|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 37th district
November 7, 2000 – November 4, 2008
|Preceded by||Lee Constantine|
|Succeeded by||Scott Plakon|
June 13, 1952 |
|Alma mater||Tennessee Technological University (B.S.)
Vanderbilt University Law School (J.D.)
David H. Simmons (born June 13, 1952) is a Republican member of the Florida Senate, representing parts of Greater Orlando since 2010. He has represented the 9th district, encompassing Seminole County and southern Volusia County, since 2016, after being redistricted from the 10th district, and before that, the 22nd. Simmons previously served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 37th district from 2000 to 2008.
Simmons was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and attended Tennessee Technological University, where he graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1974. Following graduation, he attended the Vanderbilt University Law School, receiving his Juris Doctor in 1977 and moving to the state of Florida later that year. He served on United States Senator Connie Mack's Federal Judicial Advisory Committee from 1989 to 1992, and joined the law firm of de Beaubien, Knight, Simmons, Mantzaris, & Neal, LLP, where he currently serves as an attorney and financial managing partner.
Florida House of Representatives
In 1986, Simmons ran for the Florida House of Representatives from the 39th District, which was based in Orange County, against incumbent State Representative Fran Carlton. During the campaign, Simmons attacked Carlton for voting against the death penalty, which Carlton alleged was a false claim, saying, "Mr. Simmons has used misinformation, twisted facts, half-truths, and out-right untruths in his attempt to discredit my good name. He owes me a retraction and he owes the voters an apology." Simmons stood by the advertisement, noting, "I have nothing to apologize for. My advertising is showing the real voting record of Fran Carlton." The Orlando Sentinel, though they "heartily" endorsed Carlton for re-election, praised Simmons as "a determined, self-made lawyer" who "has the potential to make contributions to Central Florida." Ultimately, Simmons lost to Carlton in a landslide, receiving 36% of the vote to her 64%.
Simmons ran for the legislature again in 2000, when incumbent State Representative Lee Constantine, who was term-limited, ran for the Florida Senate. Simmons ran to succeed Constantine in the 37th District, which was based in northern Orange County and central Seminole County. He faced Larry Strickler, a former Seminole County School Board member, in the Republican primary, and a contentious election followed, with Simmons accusing Strickler of being liberal and Strickler attacking Simmons as a "downtown Orlando trial attorney." The Sentinel endorsed Simmons in his second campaign for the legislature, noting that while both candidates had "lengthy resume" and were "well-versed on the issues," Simmons "articulates a firmer vision of what he sees as his priorities," which included an overhaul of transportation policy, preventing drugs from entering the state, and substantial campaign finance reform. Simmons ended up narrowly winning the primary election, receiving 53% of the vote to Strickler's 47%, and advancing to the general election, where he faced Ali Shahnami, the Democratic nominee. Shahnami did not prove to be a significant obstacle for Simmons, as he won in a landslide, receiving 70% of the vote to Shahnami's 30%. Running for re-election in 2002, Simmons was opposed by Libertarian candidate Timothy Moriarty in the general election. He campaigned on his efforts to reform the nursing-home industry in the state and on his legislation that aimed to prevent drunken drivers from repeating their offenses, and said that he planned on raising teacher salaries over the following five years. Simmons easily won his second term, defeating Moriarty in a landslide with 76% of the vote. He was unopposed for re-election in 2004 and 2006, winning his third and fourth terms entirely uncontested, and was unable to seek re-election in 2008 due to term limits.
When Constantine, whom Simmons had succeeded in the House, was unable to seek another term in the Florida Senate, Simmons ran to succeed him in the 22nd District, which stretched from Sanford to Winter Park in northern Orange County and western Seminole County. He was unopposed in both the Republican primary and the general election, winning his first term uncontested.
In 2012, following the reconfiguration of the state's legislative districts, Simmons was drawn into the 10th District, where he ran for re-election. The district maintained much of the territory that he had previously represented, but dropped the incursion into Orange County and expanded into eastern Seminole County and southern Volusia County. He won the Republican primary unopposed, and faced Leo Cruz, the Democratic nominee, in the general election. Though the contest was closer than any Simmons had faced in the past, he still won re-election by a solid margin, receiving 55% of the vote to Cruz's 45%.
During the 2014 legislative session, Simmons sponsored legislation that would have allowed "an applicant who is an unauthorized immigrant who was brought to this state as a minor and who has been a resident of this state for more than 10 years and has fulfilled all requirements for admission to practice law in this state" to be admitted to the Florida Bar, Simmons spoke strongly in favor, arguing, "We're going to right an injustice."
Simmons' district was reconfigured and renumbered after court-ordered redistricting in 2016.
- "Representative David Simmons". Florida House of Representatives. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Biography". David Simmons for State Senate. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- O'Neal, Donna (October 24, 1986). "Carlton May Go To Court About Ads". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Return Carlton To House". Orlando Sentinel. October 22, 1986. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- Perez, Robert (August 13, 2000). "They're Both Republicans, But They Fuss A Lot In House Race". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Simmons Is Gop Choice". Orlando Sentinel. August 18, 2000. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- Perez, Robert (October 6, 2002). "District 37 Race Pits Pair Of Opposites". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- Bousquet, Steve (April 24, 2014). "Florida Senate supports landmark bid for law license by noncitizen". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 6, 2014.