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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Joe Gibbons, Perry Thurston announce runs to lead House Democrats in 2012



Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, and Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation have formally announced runs to lead House Democrats in 2012. Gibbons, now second in command of the House Democrats, made his announcement late yesterday. Thurston announced today. 

"I had indicated back in November that I was running. I was just waiting on the current minority leader to indicate he'll let us go ahead and have elections," Thurston said. Thurston declared himself the frontrunner, given that the current minority leader Rep. Ron Saunders defeated him by a tiny margin two years ago. Thurston said he has asked Saunders to call for elections as soon as possible. "If it was up to me we would have it by next week. When you have the Republicans who have their leadership planned out for the next three consecutive terms, you do yourself a disfavor by not knowing who your next leader is going to be," he said.

Saunders, though, said he won't call an election so soon.  "It's not fair to our freshmen who haven't had a chance to get to know our members," he said. Waiting, he said, also will give others time to jump into the fray.

As for Gibbons, he said Thurston had his chance to lead House Democrats and was rejected. Gibbons said he had planned to run two years ago, but stepped aside for Thurston because he didn't want to divide the Black caucus. Now it's his turn. "I don't look at it as an entitlement," Gibbons said. "I've raised a lot of money. I've helped get new members elected. Those are the things leaders do." 

Gibbons is sharing a ticket with Darren Soto, D-Orlando, who is running for speaker pro tempore. Gibbons agrees with Saunders that there's no point in hurrying the elections.  "We won't even be here next week," he said. "The freshemn don't know us. They need to se us in action." Gibbons rapped Thurston for telling people during the organizational session last month the he planned to run as the 2012 Democratic leader. "What was the big hurry? Why press people? We should be bringing the party together," Gibbons said. "This could be divisive and I don't want that to happen."

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 6:04pm]


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