Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Democrats lose clout in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Democrats lost more than the governor's office and all three Cabinet posts on Tuesday. They also lost their last leadership position in Tallahassee and their last bit of legislative clout.

Democrat Alex Sink, the lone Democrat in the Cabinet, will be replaced as chief financial officer by outgoing state Sen. Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican. The other two Cabinet posts also went to Republicans when Adam Putnam defeated Scott Maddox and Pam Bondi defeated state Sen. Dan Gelber.

In the Legislature, only 51 Democrats remain — 12 in the 40-member Senate and 39 in the 120-member House. That's not enough to defeat legislation, block attempts to waive the rules or reject proposed constitutional amendments.

"It's the first time the Democrats are in super minorities," said Gelber of Miami Beach. "When you lose numerical relevance, all you have is your voice."

Because Democrats can't stop legislation, "your voice becomes your currency and your weapon," he said.

Speaking with a unified voice has not always been the Democrats' strength in the Florida Legislature.

"At this moment, we don't have one voice," said Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, who will be the Democrats' Senate leader for the next two years. "There is no question we have to sit down and figure out a strategy."

Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, have made it clear they want the Legislature to move more to the right, a shift in direction that Rich hopes will not lead them to controversial social issues, such as abortion and school prayer.

Gelber predicts that if Gov.-elect Rick Scott acts as conservative as he promises to be, the next two years will be the most ideologically extreme the state has ever seen.

''This is a group that is going to want to really press their vision of Florida," he said. "The Legislature and Cabinet will be more to the right than it has been."

He and Rich predicted that Scott, Haridopolos and Cannon will attempt to dramatically change education policy, open the door to extreme health care reforms (such as giving people vouchers for Medicaid) and introduce new restrictions on abortion — such as the ultrasound bill passed but vetoed last session.

Only U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a two-term senator from Melbourne, remains as the lone Democrat standing on the statewide stage. And he may have a target on his back.

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fort Lauderdale, ends his appointed term in January, with the swearing in of Republican Marco Rubio. LeMieux is widely believed to be looking at running against Nelson in 2012.

"The reverberations of people's discontent with the direction of the Democratic Congress and this president is not going to end," LeMieux said Wednesday. "It's not going to end in two years. I think this is going to be several years.""

Staff writer Lesley Clark contributed to this report. Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com.

Democrats lose clout in Tallahassee 11/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Senator: American student arrested in China has been freed

    World

    BILLINGS, Mont. — Chinese authorities have dropped charges against an American college student who was arrested and detained in the a week ago after reportedly injuring a taxi driver who was roughing up his mother in a fare dispute, a U.S. lawmaker said Sunday.

    Guthrie McLean was detained for reportedly injuring a taxi driver after the driver physically attacked McLean’s mother.
  2. Tampa-based makeup artist disqualified from contest over pro-Trump post

    News

    WICHITA, Kan. — A makeup artist who splits her time between Tampa and Kansas says she won a national contest sponsored by Kat Von D Beauty but was later disqualified because of an Instagram post supporting Donald Trump's presidential candidacy.

    Gypsy Freeman won the contest with this image posted to Instagram. [@facesofgypsy on Instagram]
  3. Flesh-eating bacteria nearly kills Florida man who thought he just had blisters from a hike

    Health

    Wayne Atkins thought little of the blisters he had gotten while hiking. He was trekking up and down the 4,500-foot-high Mount Garfield in New Hampshire - a 10-mile round trip - and blisters were no surprise.

    Wayne Atkins thought his blisters were from hiking, but the flesh eating bacteria nearly killed him. [YouTube]
  4. Yes, again: Rays blow late two-run lead, get swept by Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As weekends go, this was a bad one for the Rays. In a word: brutal.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger, foreground, reacts after giving up a home run to Texas Rangers' Carlos Gomez during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 23, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson) FLMC116
  5. White House offers muddled message on Russia sanctions legislation

    National

    WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the Trump administration supports new legislation to punish Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its aggression toward Ukraine.

    President Donald Trump at the commissioning ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford  at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, July 22, 2017. [New York Times]