Heading into the mother of all Florida election years, it's time to bid 2017 goodbye with our year-end list winners and losers in Florida politics.
A strong case could be made that Florida voters were the chief losers, given all that we've learned about our Legislature: State senators hitting on and sleeping with lobbyists (and others) — or turning a blind eye as their colleagues do. State House leaders spending obscene amounts of special interest money on elite restaurants, cigars, posh resorts. Lawmakers drinking behind closed doors.
But that's so depressingly broad, we'd rather narrow it down a bit. Drum roll please …
Winner of the year
Richard Corcoran. Critics see him as a bully and sanctimonious hypocrite, an utter insider pretending to be a populist. But the wily Florida House speaker from Pasco County has dominated the agenda in Tallahassee like no one since Jeb Bush. He outmaneuvered both the governor and Florida Senate in last year's legislative session, and there is little reason to doubt he will do so again in 2018 as he raises his profile in advance of a likely gubernatorial run.
Loser of the year
The Florida Senate. Three senators — Jack Latvala of Pinellas County, Jeff Clemens of Palm Beach County and Frank Artiles of Miami-Dade — knocked out of office for being pigs of one sort or another. What's supposed to be the more deliberative body looked more like the Animal House branch.
Rick Scott. The governor and likely candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018 earned loads of goodwill from his handling of Hurricane Irma. The state's response had significant problems, but internal campaign polls show that the ubiquitous presence of Scott and his trusty Navy hat significantly boosted his approval ratings as he heads towards a tough challenge of Sen. Bill Nelson.