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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How Richard Corcoran became House Speaker



Rep. Richard Corcoran wasn't the typical freshman lawmaker in a Florida House where about a third of the 120 members are new lawmakers. Corcoran, R-Trinity, had never served (though he had run repeatedly), but he worked in a position that was almost as powerful: Chief of Staff to former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

"It became clear to the freshmen members that when Richard Corcoran makes a promise he has the institutional knowledge to make good on it," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Destin, who was running for speaker as well but conceeded Tuesday.

Corcoran had another insider card: His brother, Mike Corcoran, is a prominent lobbyist in the Capitol.

Aside from Corcoran's knowledge of the process -- how to pass legislation, work the budget, get votes, etc -- Gaetz said Corcoran had two huge geographical advantages: The Tampa Bay legislative delegation and the Miami-Dade delegation, which is the largest and therefore most influential. Initially, Miami-Dade's delegation planned to remain neutral, but Corcoran's Miami roots won out.

One Miami lawmaker instrumental in helping persuade his fellow Miamians, Jose Felix Diaz, said he didn't want to comment about the "rumors." 

In the end, Gaetz (who had Panhandle support) and Rep. Ben Albritton (a scion of a citrus fortune with strong ties to Florida's rural areas) just couldn't muster the votes.

Corcoran, who garnered a little bad press for his wielding of a Republican Party of Florida credit card, played humble when asked how he won.

"This is such a tremendous honor," he said. "Anyone in this class could have been House Speaker. But now comes the tough part. Now I have to lead."

Technically, Corcoran won't be House Speaker until he's officially designated, which will likely be in 2016 for his two-year term that will stretch from 2017-2018. House Speakers are rarely, if ever, deposed after they're tapped. So it's pretty much a lock that Corcoran will succeed Chris Dorworth who will follow Will Weatherford who's scheduled to succeed the current House Speaker, Dean Cannon.


[Last modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:39pm]


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