Monday, June 18, 2018
Politics

A battle for power in the Florida House, years in advance

What will you be doing in November 2018?

While you ponder such an odd question, consider this: The race is already under way to choose the speaker of the Florida House in 2018, involving people who haven't been elected yet.

Bizarre, but true.

Without question, this is one of the most illogical and potentially dangerous side effects of term limits.

House candidates are limited to eight years — four, two-year terms. The instant they hit the campaign trail, they can hear the ticking of that term limits clock.

Consumed with ambition, they run for speaker without first showing the ability to lead.

This is the speed-dating version of running for class president, with much more serious consequences.

With Republicans firmly in control, the next three speakers have been designated by GOP members: Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel takes over this fall; Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary in 2014; and Richard Corcoran of Trinity in 2016.

But there's a scramble developing for six years out, with Rep. Jose Oliva of Miami Lakes leading the charge.

Oliva is building friendships with candidates the best way Tallahassee politicians know how: by raising money for them. Oliva, 39, a father of three, is CEO of his family's cigar business, and said he's not asking people to support him for speaker.

"Talking to people, understanding what they want and building those relationships," is how Oliva described it. "If I get the opportunity, I would like to be in leadership."

He's a "red-shirt freshman," elected in a 2011 special election (a half-term does not count against the eight-year term limit). That gives him an edge on incoming freshmen (38 of the 120 House seats are open in this year's elections).

Oliva recently held a fundraiser in Miami for termed-out Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Fasano is running for a Pasco House seat and calls Oliva a "dear friend."

He sees nothing wrong with Oliva's early candidacy for speaker: "It's going to be up to the members anyway. It's a long way off."

But Fasano says Oliva did not press him to commit to a speakership candidacy, and he wouldn't anyway.

"Let me get elected first," Fasano said.

Oliva recently circulated a fundraising appeal among lobbyists on behalf of 11 Republican hopefuls, including Jake Raburn of Lithia and Joe Wicker of Riverview.

"Below is a group I am bringing to town," Oliva's email said.

Other candidates are appalled by the jockeying.

"It's compromising the process," says ex-Rep. Gus Barreiro of Miami.

"I don't want to commit. I need to get elected first," said Holly Raschein, who's seeking a House seat in the Keys. "It's too early."

Oliva himself has a Republican primary opponent, and he'll have lots of competition for speaker. But it's a race against time, and the clock is already ticking.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected].

Comments
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Published: 06/17/18
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administrationís aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18
Sarah Sanders and  Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Sarah Sanders and Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are considering stepping down, according to a CBS report. Sanders promptly responded in a Tweet saying, "I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS." Does @CBSNews k...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

WASHINGTON ó The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid economic growth and rising inflation. The Fed now foresees four rate hi...
Published: 06/13/18
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

TAMPA ó Law enforcement officers never want to be outgunned. Neither do political candidates.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister need not worry.The Republican candidate has amassed what appears to be a record-sized war chest of just more than $1 mil...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Trumpís tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

Trumpís tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

TAMPA ó June 16 will mark a year since President Trump announced a tougher Cuba travel policy, but unlike in much of the nation, the changes donít seem to have hurt local bookings to the island.The number of people traveling between Tampa and Havana ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore for historic summit

Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore for historic summit

SINGAPORE - President Donald Trump arrived here Sunday night ahead of a potentially historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between the leaders of two countries that have been sworn enemies for almost seven decades.Air...
Published: 06/11/18