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Congressional bid called joke

House Speaker T.K. Wetherell says he was only kidding and has no plan to run for Congress.

It all started when Common Cause lobbyist Bill Jones took some reapportionment maps to Wetherell's office to show him the group's plan for dividing the state into 23 congressional districts.

"I made a crack at Jones and said, "Damn you have at least four districts I could run in,' " Wetherell said Friday as he recalled the incident.

That's when the word began to spread around the Capitol that Wetherell was joining a handful of other legislators who really are running for Congress.

Those who say they are running include Senate President Gwen Margolis; Sens. Karen Thurman, D-Dunnellon, Carrie Meek, D-Miami, and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami; and Reps. Peter Deutsch, D-Tamarac, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

Wetherell fed the rumor by suggesting that he easily could runin his old Daytona Beach district or in Tallahassee, where he has built a home and plans to live after leaving the House later this year.

"I have never told anyone I was considering running," Wetherell said.

Trouble is, Wetherell has been unwilling to rule it out.

"I'm not going to tell anyone it's something I would never do," Wetherell said. "But I've been kind of amused by it all."

Wetherell said he is serious about leaving the public sector when he leaves office.

In private life he is executive director of the Florida Association of Independent Schools and Colleges, a post he said he likes more than public office.

Wetherell said he has had other offers but has not determined what sort of work he'll do.

"Maybe some kind of consulting," Wetherell added. "Something will show up."