FLORIDA — The future looks bright for Danny Perez, Florida’s future Speaker-Designate of the House of Representatives. Growing up in the Westchester neighborhood of Miami-Dade County, Perez has local roots in a section of South Florida with rapidly changing political alliances. A graduate of Florida State University and Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Perez is a rising star in Florida’s political landscape.
MIAMI-DADE’S RED WAVE
On election night in November 2022, Perez had a front-row seat as Miami-Dade’s Democratic stronghold collapsed. While most expected a modest Republican victory, Perez was poised for a big win. The cultural metropolis – often considered more Latin American than American – went for Republicans in a fascinating turn heading towards the 2024 presidential election. The steady shift rightward peaked when out-of-touch Democrat operatives focused on woke talking points and fake “disinformation” in Spanish-language media.
Perez said it was a relief seeing Miami-Dade arrive on election night at what many described as a red wave. In a year when Republicans underperformed across most of the country, Miami-Dade voted to re-elect Governor Ron DeSantis by more than 11 points, and Senator Marco Rubio won by nearly 10. Perez says thanks should go to those who laid the foundation, “brick by brick, year after year” – in a political shift that didn’t happen overnight.
“The governor pushed us over the finish line with the policies that he implemented over the last several years,” Perez tells The Florida Standard. “Based on the national attention that we are receiving in Florida, our policies are working. The people want to continue down the path the governor is leading. I think there will be more of that to come in the years ahead,” Perez says.
A BALANCING ACT
An accomplished attorney, Danny Perez comes across as a traditional family man with a passion for helping his community. Elected speaker-designate in his 30s, Perez has a deep understanding of how state government operates – but it’s not without challenges.
When asked how he balances his family with a high-level legal profession and a side gig as a state legislator, Perez said it’s tough. “You have to prioritize,” he tells The Florida Standard. “I have a wife and two wonderful children. Serving the public is important, but there is no greater priority to me than being present in their lives,” he says.
Perez says his family understands that his work in state government will help his local community and all Floridians in the future. “But there are times when I’m not available,” he says. “I have to make sure that I’m at that ballet recital or that soccer game for my kid – it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”
As the future speaker-designate, Perez is responsible for overseeing fundraising the next two years. He’s also tasked with making sure the Republican caucus gets re-elected and that they add to their majority in the Florida House. In 2024, he’ll take the gavel as speaker of the House.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2023
In addition to representing his own community (District 116, Westchester), Perez says the work Republicans are doing now will affect future generations. He is passionate about driving down the costs of healthcare for all Floridians. “Quality of care is important but expensive,” he says. “I believe there is a lot of movement that can be made in that space.”
Perez says there are many issues facing Floridians in 2023, but the most important one is the economy, specifically inflation. More households are struggling to make their dollars stretch further on essentials like groceries, gas and electricity.
“In every single conversation I’ve had with constituents, they bring up inflation,” Perez tells The Florida Standard. “Workforce housing is a big issue in Miami-Dade county as well. People who grew up in these communities are now starting their careers and they can’t afford to buy a house,” he says.
“Property insurance is also important, and it’s something we’ve just dealt with in the Special Session,” says Perez. “Now it's a matter of seeing how quickly that will turn into real results – it could take 18 to 24 months.”
But the focal point of the upcoming regular legislative session, according to Perez, has to be tax breaks. The state is sitting on a surplus because funds collected were put into a savings account, but now Perez says it’s time to act.
“We need to focus on allowing Floridians to keep more money in their pocket by not collecting as much from them,” Perez tells The Florida Standard. “Last year, we passed the largest tax break in the history of the state. And this year, I think we’ll be working on that again to help keep more money in people’s pockets.”
“What we accomplished last year was impressive,” Perez says, referring to the spectrum of tax breaks authorized – from diapers and baby supplies to breaks for veterans and the gas tax relief late last year just before the holidays. “We have a balanced budget in Florida, and we are very judicious in our spending,” he added.
THE FUTURE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
When speaking on the future of the Republican party, Perez is optimistic. “I think Florida is fortunate enough to see that firsthand through Governor Ron DeSantis. Through his policies, we’ve seen what the next generation of Republican leaders look like.”
Perez says the governor has caught on fire with the rest of the country. He says that no matter where you travel, when you tell people you’re from Florida, they will ask you about Governor DeSantis.
The success you see in the City of Miami, for example, can be attributed to the legislature and the governor, who passed policies that attract business to the area giving them the flexibility to operate in a competitive economic environment. “The legislature doesn’t often get a lot of credit,” Perez says.
More than 1,000 people are moving to Florida each day, and according to Perez, it is a direct result of the Republican Party’s work in the House and Senate. “The legislative chambers deserve credit for passing the laws that make Florida a great place to live,” he says.