President Obama’s Coattails Dragged Along I-4 Corridor in Florida House

By: Jim Turner | Posted: November 7, 2012 3:30 AM
Kathy Castor and Barack Obama
State Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, who is in line to become House president, continues to fight for his political life.

Dorworth, a prolific fundraiser, was expected to easily win the Republican-leaning district, but instead finds himself 37 votes behind Democratic challenger Mike Clelland, a firefighter from Longwood.

A recount is expected as absentee and provisional ballots remain uncounted.

Meanwhile, Democrats were also able to grab a number of other Central Florida seats, erasing the House GOP’s supermajority for the next two sessions.

Marian Johnson, Florida Chamber of Commerce senior vice president of political strategy, said President Obama’s coattails dragged across the I-4 corridor, where Democrat Karen Castor Dentel defeated Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, Linda Stewart beat Republican Bob Brooks and Joe Saunders defeated Republican Marco Pena.

“In the Tampa Bay over to Orlando area, the Obama vote might have pulled these out,” Johnson said.

Not every one of the hot House contests in Central Florida went to the Democrats.

Mike La Rosa, part of the family-operated La Rosa Development Corp. in Celebration and Kissimmee, was able to defeat Democrat Eileen Game despite his name not appearing on the ballot.

La Rosa was the late replacement for State Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, who withdrew after his name surfaced on a brothel client list.

Overall, the GOP will retain its majority in the House, but no longer have a supermajority of more than 80 of the 120 seats to fully control the actions of the chamber.

House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, sees the body retaining its pro-business outlook that has dominated the deliberations in the chamber.

“By electing a Republican majority in the Florida House of Representatives, Floridians have chosen to prioritize the improvement of Florida’s job creation climate, economic prosperity and a future where every child has the skills necessary to compete in a global economy,” Weatherford stated in a release.

“I congratulate all of the winning House candidates and look forward to getting started on developing a bold and transformational agenda for Florida’s future.

“I also offer my congratulations to Leader-designate Perry Thurston on his party’s victories. As speaker, I intend to work with all members on the most important issues facing our state. Together, we can offer leadership that puts the interests of Floridians over the interests of our parties.”

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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