Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, has been selected by fellow Republicans to become speaker of the state House of Representatives in 2017-18.
Corcoran isn't the typical freshman lawmaker in a Florida House where about one-third of the 120 members are new. Corcoran had never served (though he had run repeatedly), but he worked in a position that was almost as powerful: chief of staff to then-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 conceded 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.
Gaetz (who had Panhandle support) and Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, (a scion of a citrus fortune with strong ties to Florida's rural areas) just couldn't muster the votes.
Corcoran 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 likely will be in 2016 for a two-year term that will stretch from 2017 to 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 current House Speaker Dean Cannon.
Scott wants more budget time
State law requires the governor to present his budget recommendation to the Florida Legislature in January, but this year, with the inauguration of a new governor, the deadline by law is extended to Feb 6. Legislators expected it Feb. 4.
Now, Gov. Rick Scott is asking for more time. In a letter to House Speaker Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Scott asked if he could work through the weekend. Cannon said okay, giving the governor until Feb. 7.
The governor's budget is only a recommendation and is either used as a guidepost or completely ignored by lawmakers. Scott told reporters and editors last week that, like Babe Ruth's called shot, "my budget will pass."
There is precedent for the Legislature to give the governor extended time. After the tornadoes in Central Florida in 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist sought and received an extension and proposed his budget on Feb. 20.
GOP gets executive director
State GOP chairman David Bitner has named Andy Palmer to serve as the party's executive director. Palmer, who had the same post under Carole Jean Jordan, most recently served as director of House campaigns. "Andy is well qualified for this endeavor, with an outstanding work ethic, commitment to the job and character," Bitner said.
Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas and Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.