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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

State Sen. Gary Siplin, a Central Florida Democrat, doesn't fall in line



State Sen. Gary Siplin charts his own path through the Florida Legislature.

He's a Democrat who cuts deals with Republicans. Even in hard times, he brings home money to his inner-city Orlando district. Despite a series of missteps during a 12-year political career and well-financed campaigns to oust him, Siplin has never lost an election.

Now facing the inevitability of term limits, he is arranging for his wife to take his place.

Siplin, 57, is a survivor, a political operator and a throwback who puts his district first.

This year, he is working with Republicans, not Democrats, to pass a bill expanding prayer in public schools. Last year, it was supporting reforms to public schools that tied teacher pay to the performance of students.

"It ain't about Republican or Democrat," Siplin said last week during an interview in his office. "It's about District 19."

Read more here.

[Last modified: Monday, February 13, 2012 9:12am]


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