Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Politics

State Rep. Rouson joins the race for leadership post

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, has filed a notice of intent to seek the speakership of the Florida House in the 2014-2016 term. While Rouson is technically announcing his candidacy for speaker, his true goal is to be a future minority leader, since it is exceedingly remote that his party will win enough seats to get back in the majority again.

But Rouson, a 58-year-old lawyer who is one of the best debaters in the House, says Democrats have to start somewhere.

"I would like to see the Democratic members be a relevant minority, since we represent the majority of registered voters in the state of Florida," Rouson said. (Democrats are a plurality of voters; neither party has a majority on the voter rolls.)

"My interest is in rebranding, recruitment and reinvestment," Rouson said. "And I just think we have an absolutely golden opportunity in 2014, if we start now."

While Rouson is a passionate Democrat, he also has a reputation for carefully picking his fights, and on occasion supporting the Republicans' agenda in Tallahassee. He notes that he is the only Democratic House member who will represent portions of Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties. "It would not behoove me to be a bitter partisan," Rouson said.

The election for the post Rouson is seeking will not occur for another two years. The incoming House Democratic leader is Rep. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer.

Republicans have Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, in line for the 2014-16 speaker.

Biden, Ryan coming to visit

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to make remarks Friday at a campaign event at the Sun City Center Community Association Community Hall. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. To get a ticket, visit one of these two locations: Sun City Center Community Association Community Hall, 1910 S Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center; OFA-FL office, 11215 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview. Biden will campaign later Friday in Fort Pierce and elsewhere in Florida on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan returns to Florida on Thursday with events in Ocala and Fort Myers, and Friday in Daytona Beach.

And Buzz hears Mitt Romney may hit Florida this weekend, too.

News from Mack campaign

Two interesting tidbits about Connie Mack IV's U.S. Senate campaign:

1. It seems Mack's wife, U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., is in a tougher re-election campaign against Democrat Raul Ruiz than we realized. From the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.:

Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, has cruised to easy victories in the past few cycles, despite Democratic predictions that she could be beaten. This year, however, Democrats are putting their money where their mouths are. The party and its allies have launched a series of TV ad campaigns attacking Bono Mack and released polling data that shows Ruiz, an emergency room doctor at Eisenhower Medical Center, is close behind the incumbent.

Leading political handicappers also view the race as tightening. In recent weeks, the Cook Political Report and analyst Larry Sabato each have moved the seat from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican," a distinction that means they think Ruiz has a better shot at winning than before.

Wonder where they'd live if they both lose. California? Florida? Washington area?

2. Mack's polling numbers in Florida — trailing Bill Nelson by a RealClearPolitics average of 6.7 percentage points — are worse than the polling numbers for Todd "legitimate rape" Akin in Missouri, who trails by an average 2.3 points and has been abandoned by much of the GOP establishment.

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