Former Senate President Ken Pruitt on Friday announced his endorsement of Gayle Harrell in the election triggered by Sen. Joe Negron’s retirement from the Florida Senate.
Harrell and Pruitt, who served from 2006 to 2008 as the 78th president of the Legislature's upper chamber, have known each other for many years, in and out of the Legislature. Pruitt's endorsement is the second to come from a state Senate president. Negron, whose term expires at the end of the year, has also given Harrell his support.
"Gayle is a dear friend, was a great partner when we worked together in the Legislature, and a tireless fighter for the values and principles Treasure Coast voters hold dear," President Pruitt stated. "There is no other candidate who can challenge her conservative credentials nor match her involvement in the Treasure Coast. I ask all of my former constituents to join me in backing Gayle Harrell for the Florida Senate.”
Said Harrell, “Ken Pruitt and I have a long history and have lots of shared successes for our community. I will work to uphold his legacy of protecting the quality of life we enjoy as residents of the Treasure Coast.”
Senate District 25 is a Republican-leaning district that voted for Rick Scott in 2010, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016. Harrell’s current district makes up the largest portion of the Senate District compared to any other state House district therein.
Harrell has proven her ability to garner votes in St. Lucie County, which is critical to success on Election Day. She proved this in multiple elections, most notably when she defeated a Democratic incumbent to take her current state House seat back for the Republican Party.
Earlier in the month Harrell drew a primary challenge from Belinda Keiser, a former Democrat from Broward County -- once a big donor to Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats, many from South Florida. Keiser can self-finance her campaign if need be and has said she is moving from Fort Lauderdale to District 25. She is the vice chancellor of community relations and student advancement at Keiser University, a private institution with 25 campuses located around Florida and named after her husband, Arthur.
Harrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and moved to the state of Florida, as a child. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and a Master’s Degree in Latin American History from the University of Florida, where she received the Edith Bristol Tigert award as an Outstanding Female Graduate and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, she taught Spanish and Latin American history.
Gayle Harrell has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare and has served on many committees in the Legislature dealing with prominent health issues.
She worked as a healthcare administrator, managing the ObGyn practice of Dr. James E. Harrell, her husband, and was the founder of the Breast Imaging Center, a mammography center specializing in preventive care for women. She currently is the CEO of Health IT Strategies and works as health IT consultant.
A resident of Florida’s Treasure Coast for more than 45 years, Gayle is committed to serving our community proven by her service as president of many civic organizations such as Hibiscus Children’s Center, the Barn Theatre, and the HPS – Helping People Succeed. She currently serves on the Board of the Martin County Education Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties.
Gayle has four children and eight grandchildren, and is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Stuart. She and her husband, Dr. James Harrell were married for 53 years until his passing earlier this month.
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