Many friendships grow as state legislators tackle issues big and small in Tallahassee, but none is as fascinating as the close friendship between state Reps. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, who is in line to be the next House Speaker.
Fasano, the independent-minded populist, never shies away from taking on GOP leadership and this year vocally criticized fellow Republicans for refusing to accept $51 billion in federal funds to expand health coverage to more than 1 million Floridians. Corcoran, in contrast, passionately opposes anything that smacks of expanding Medicaid, and offered up his own bare-bones alternative low-income health care plan dubbed "Corcorancare" that would include no federal funding.
"Richard Corcoran is one of the best friends I have, not only in my political life, but in my life. He and I just respectfully disagreed on this issue," Fasano said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, in which he called the Corcorancare proposal "ridiculous." Corcoran also appears in a separate Political Connections interview today.
It's not the first time they've disagreed.
Corcoran used to be a top adviser to then-Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, but when Rubio ran for U.S. Senate, no Republican criticized Rubio as a hypocrite with a less-than-conservative legislative record more than Fasano.
Corcoran tells us he will happily debate health care with his friend Fasano on a future Political Connections — but requested that we keep Fasano from interrupting him constantly.
Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Ready to rumble
U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, 82 years old and in his 22nd term, recently turned to an aide and said, "Get me geared up a year earlier."
Already bombarded with Democratic attacks, including a robocall this week, Young is prepping for another campaign. And the Pinellas County Republican says he's ready for a fight.
"I'm getting older. I'm getting more aggressive and I'll probably be more political than I've ever been," Young said Friday afternoon outside the House chamber. "I'm going to respond where I need to respond."
Later this month in St. Petersburg, Young will hold a re-election fundraiser and he has two scheduled in June. He raised $58,000 in the first quarter, marking an earlier than usual start for him. The Democrat he easily dispatched last November, Jessica Ehrlich, has already declared she'll run again.
Young is carrying around a picture of him standing next to the health care law, a tower of paper that rises above him. He took it Thursday just before voting with other Republicans to repeal the law, the 37th such time the GOP has done so.
Leading up to the vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid for robocalls in his district. To anyone who contacts his office, Young is happy to send the photo along with a one-page summary of why he feels Obamacare is a disaster.
Fox looks to West
Fox News has hired former Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West as a contributor, the cable network announced.
"Rep. West's congressional and military experience along with his fearless approach to voicing key issues will provide a valuable point of view to the Fox News lineup," said Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming.
West, who was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy in November, earlier this year became director of Next Generation TV Programming with PJ Media.
'On the List'
Florida congressional candidates Jessica Ehrlich and Gwen Graham are among a handful of women being highlighted by the Democratic group Emily's List.
" 'On the List' is a new way to make sure Emily's List members can engage with and support promising candidates all across the country even earlier in the election cycle. By putting these women 'On the List,' Emily's List is ensuring that they have access to this powerful network of supporters," the group said.
Ehrlich is again challenging Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Graham is taking on Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City.
On Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes.