|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 44th district
|Assumed office |
November 6, 2018
|Preceded by||Bobby Olszewski|
|Member of the Florida Senate|
from the 12th district
November 6, 2012 – November 8, 2016
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 39th district
November 7, 2006 – November 6, 2012
|Preceded by||Bruce Antone|
|Born||November 18, 1948|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Alma mater||Miami-Dade Community College (A.A.)|
University of Miami (B.Ed.)
Florida State University (M.S.)
Geraldine Fortenberry Thompson (born on November 18, 1948) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party, who currently serves as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 44th District. The district includes Windermere, Winter Garden, Gotha, Lake Buena Vista, Oakland, parts of Ocoee, and the Dr. Phillips, Horizon West, and Williamsburg communities in Southwest Orange County, FL. The district contains Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld, International Drive, and the Orange County Convention Center.
A veteran member of the Florida Legislature, she previously served as a member of the Florida State Senate from 2012 to 2016, representing parts of Orlando and western Orange County. She also served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives, from 2006 to 2012.
Thompson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and moved to the state of Florida in 1955, where she grew up in the town of Perrine where members of her family worked in agriculture and construction. She attended Miami-Dade Community College and received a scholarship to attend the University of Miami in Coral Gables, where she enrolled shortly after that school ended racial segregation. In 1970, she received a bachelor’s degree with honors in journalism and business education. She moved with her husband, Emerson, to Tallahassee, where he attended law school and she worked in state government and higher education. Her first position in Tallahassee was as Executive Secretary to Representative Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry, the first African American woman to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. After working for several years, she sought a Master of Science degree in Communication from Florida State University, which she received in 1973. She then joined her husband in Orlando. She began work as a teacher in Orange County Public Schools. After six years, she left the classroom to accept a position as Director of the Equal Opportunity Office at Valencia Community College where she served for 24 years as Assistant to the President.
In 2002, Thompson ran for the Florida House of Representatives from the 39th District, which included parts of downtown Orlando in Orange County, against Bruce Antone, Tiffany Moore Russell, and Jon Eason. She campaigned on her support for the class size amendment that was on the ballot in the general election that year and for a sales tax referendum in Orange County that would raise the sales tax to fund school construction. The Orlando Sentinel, though praising Thompson as "well-intentioned" and citing her experience in saving the Well'sbuilt Hotel and converting it to a history museum, endorsed Antone, noting that she lacked Antone's "ability to get things done for the entire district." She ended up coming in third place, receiving 26% of the vote to Antone's 34% and Moore Russell's 31%, and Eason's 9%.
Thompson again ran for office in 2004 when she challenged incumbent State Senator Gary Siplin in the Democratic primary in the 19th District, which included parts of central Orange County and northern Osceola County. During the campaign, she attacked Siplin for his tenure in office, asserting that he was "ineffective" and focused more on talking about solutions than solving problems, alienating local leaders in the process. The Sentinel agreed with Thompson, asking, "What has Mr. Siplin actually done for his constituents?" and noting, "Even Mr. Siplin is hard-pressed to find an answer." The Sentinel ended up endorsing Thompson, commending her "political savvy and dogged determination to actually get things done." Ultimately, however, she ended up falling short to Siplin, receiving 40% of the vote to his 60%.
Florida House of Representatives
When Antone, whom Thompson had previously run against, opted against seeking a fourth term in the House to instead unsuccessfully run for the Orange County Commission, Thompson ran to succeed him. In the Democratic primary, she faced Prince Brown, a retired Navy lieutenant and a public health consultant, and Fritz Jackson Seide, an accountant and real estate broker. Thompson campaigned on her support for affordable housing for low-income residents of the district, improved public transportation systems, and on addressing crime by expanding economic opportunity. Thompson was endorsed by the Orlando Sentinel, which cited her deep commitment to the region and her "scope of experience." Ultimately, she defeated both of her opponents in a landslide, winning 60% of the vote to Brown's 25% and Jackson's 15%. She was then elected without an opponent in the general election, and was re-elected without opposition in 2008 and 2010.
Senator Siplin was unable to seek another term in 2012 due to term limits, so Thompson once again ran for the Florida Senate. This time, she faced Siplin's wife, Victoria Siplin, in the Democratic primary. Thompson campaigned on a platform of enhancing access to public education and job creation, and attacked Siplin for relying on taxpayer-funded mailers, sent out by her husband's Senate office, to promote herself. In the end, she defeated Victoria Siplin with 56% of the vote. Thompson then ran against Fritz Seide Jackson, the Republican nominee who had previously opposed her in the Democratic primary in 2006. The Orlando Sentinel endorsed Thompson, praising her as a "serious person, and a champion for public education and job creation," while criticizing Seide for only running as a "Republican for this race so he could make it to the general election."
When Thompson ran for re-election in 2014, she was challenged in the Democratic primary by Gary Siplin. She attacked Siplin for skipping public debates, saying, "I think voters deserve an opportunity to compare his ideas and my ideas so they can make an informed decision." The Sentinel once endorsed Thompson, praising her as a "compassionate and capable legislator" and a "strong advocate for public education and public health," while criticizing Siplin for his "ineffectual leadership" and lack of "record or respect in Tallahassee." In a contrast to the relatively close primary two years earlier, Thompson defeated Siplin in a landslide, winning 64% of the vote to his 36%. Advancing to the general election, she faced Edward DeAguilera, a development director for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida and the Republican nominee. Once again, the Sentinel endorsed Thompson, though praising DeAguilera for having a "bright future" should he stay in politics, due to Thompson's "effectiveness" and "broad support." Owing to the liberal nature of the district, the contest was not close, and Thompson defeated DeAguilera handily with 63% of the vote.
2016 Congressional Campaign
In 2015, following court-mandated redistricting that created a new Democratic-leaning Congressional district based in Orlando, Thompson announced that she would run for Congress in the 10th district, challenging former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings and former Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe in the Democratic primary. Thompson came in second place, receiving 20% of the vote to Demings' 57%.
2018 Florida House Campaign
In 2018, Thompson announced her intention to challenge incumbent Republican state representative Bobby Olszewski in House District 44, covering suburban southwestern Orange County. She went on to defeat Olszewski in the general election.
- Johnson, Pamela J. (August 18, 2002). "District 39 Race Faces Big Issues". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "For The State House: Antone In District 39". Orlando Sentinel. August 30, 2002. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "September 10, 2002 Primary Election Democratic Primary, Official Results State Representative District: 39". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- Perera, Andrea (August 27, 2004). "Opponent Says Sen. Siplin Too Comfy". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "Thompson In Senate District 19". Orlando Sentinel. August 26, 2004. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "August 31, 2004 Primary Election Democratic Primary, Official Results State Senator District: 19". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- Mckay, Rich (August 23, 2006). "3 vying for House seat in troubled District 39". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "Thompson in District 39". Orlando Sentinel. August 18, 2006. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "September 5, 2006 Primary Election Democratic Primary, Official Results State Representative District: 39". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- Busdeker, Jon (July 20, 2012). "Thompson-Siplin state Senate matchup tests experience vs. name recognition". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- Busdeker, Jon (August 14, 2012). "Thompson beats Siplin in Senate 12 race". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- "For State Senate Districts 12, 13, 14 we endorse..." Orlando Sentinel. October 2, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- Jacobson, Susan (July 20, 2014). "State Senate race features longtime rivals". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "Sen. Dist. 12, House Dist. 47: Editorial". Orlando Sentinel. August 7, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "August 26, 2014 Primary Election Democratic Primary Official Results, State Senator District: 12". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "Our picks for Legislature, part 1: Editorial". Orlando Sentinel. October 8, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "November 4, 2014 General Election Official Results, State Senator District: 12". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- Powers, Scott (October 12, 2015). "Geraldine Thompson: I'm in! for 10th Congressional District race". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
- Weiner, Jeff (2016-08-31). "Congressional races: Val Demings beats crowded Democratic field for District 10". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2016-11-16.