State Sen. Shervin Jones speaks during a session of the Florida Legislature, left and Jones and others meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK.COM

WEST PARK, Fla – Florida state Sen. Shervin Jones, a vocal critic of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his party’s legislation that appear to target Blacks and the LGBTQ community, is mulling a run for governor in 2026, the Sun Sentinel reported.

The West Park Democrat said he’s seeking to become the nation’s first Black openly gay governor if he decides to run.

He said he will make a decision after the 2024 Presidential election.

Jones, 40, has emerged as the face of the Florida Democratic Party and called out DeSantis and his allies for focusing on lesser important issues instead of matters that have more of an impact on Floridians.

Jones said Republicans are ignoring more important issues like addressing the state’s affordable, property insurance crisis while focusing on the Don’t Say Gay law and enacting a controversial Black history course in which students will be taught that AfricanAmericans benefited from slavery by learning job skills.

Jones also said he was concerned over Republicans enacting a new law this year that no longer requires background checks and permits to purchase firearms.

He said the law could lead to an increase in gun violence.

Jones filed SB 96 ahead of the 2024 legislative session in an attempt to remove statutory language allowing someone “to stand his or her ground” and replace it with a duty to retreat from confrontation “if the person knows that he or she can, with complete safety, avoid the necessity of using deadly force.”

Jones said the proposed bill could reduce gun violence.

Jones was unavailable for comments after repeated attempts were made to interview him for this story.

Jones told the Sun Sentinel it’s time for Democrats to take control of the legislature and he’s seeking the party’s nomination to run for governor.

“It’s time for us to do something different,”. “I am looking at all options. And I will go as far as the people will take me.”

Jones said members of Florida Congress and Democrats in the State Legislature urged him to run.

“From Washington, D.C., to the state, there are individuals who have … said, ‘Hey Shev, you should do this.’ I haven’t made a decision," he said. "But it is something that I won’t take off the table.”

Jones is among the leaders for the Florida Democratic Party’s Take Back Florida voter registration drive.

Along with FDP Chair Nikki Fried, Jones and fellow Democrats are touring Florida cities to encourage people to register to vote for the Presidential election and the U.S. Senate and Congressional races for next year.

The organization is spending over $1 million for the registration drive.

Jones is also a member of the Democratic National Committee and Biden campaign surrogate for 2024.

Born in Miami Gardens, Jones was elected to the State Senate in 2020 to represent District 35 and previously served in the Florida House of Representatives.

Before his political career, Jones, who earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, taught Advanced Placement Chemistry for Broward County Public Schools and was a biology instructor at Florida Atlantic University High School.

Jones underscores the importance of education and ensures students are getting the best quality education without interference from Republicans who mix politics with education including banning certain textbooks.

"Our students are not guinea pigs; they are the beating heart of our educational community, and we will not settle for mediocrity," Jones said on social media after a committee meeting in Tallahassee last month. "Our dedicated teachers deserve the freedom to craft educational experiences that ignite a passion for learning, empowering students to thrive and excel."

Jones is no stranger to personal challenges.

Using himself as an example that anything is possible, Jones said he had to overcome a speech impediment while growing up which was a major roadblock to his teaching and political careers.

He said being a public speaker made it possible for him to be the voice for the Black community in Tallahassee and his appointment to President Biden’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs this year.

"Despite being told by doctors that I would never be able to speak due to a speech impediment I had while growing up, I am grateful to say that God had other plans for me," jones said on social media with a picture of the HBCU advisors seated at a table with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. "I’m incredibly honored to just have a seat at the table. As someone who has devoted the past year to building relationships with this remarkable group, I am proud to witness the valuable recommendations we have prepared being presented to the president and vice president."

Jones faced another challenge: He abruptly lost the ability to walk in 2016.

He said he ruptured part of his lower spinal cord during a workout at the gym and doctors said the injury caused nerve damage which almost left him paralyzed.

After emergency surgery, a follow-up procedure and rigorous physical therapy, Jones was able to walk again after seven weeks with assistance from a cane.

This week, Florida lawmakers convened in Tallahassee for a four-day special session to impose stiffer sanctions against Iran and reaffirming support for Israel after the attack by Hamas last month.

Lawmakers will also vote on other bills including tax relief and aid for damages from Hurricane idalia.

Then in four months, the regular Legislative Session will begin which will see Democrats and Republicans spar over gun laws, healthcare, homeowners insurance and education.

Jones said he’s gearing up for the battle.

“How can I be part of the change in Florida?” he asked. “I believe what Florida can be is not a Democrat or a Republican thing, but is what we can build together.”

If Jones decides to run for governor, he’ll join a field of rumored candidates seeking the governor’s mansion.

Republican Congressman Byron Donalds indicated he may run and Democratic U.S. Rep. Anna Eskamani and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Republican, also may enter the race.