Florida Political Losers in 2013
Around the State
Some Florida politicians will be glad to see 2013 end. Despite no major elections in the old year, a few of them took major steps backward in 2013 and there could be repercussions at the state and national levels. Here’s a look at some of the biggest political losers in Florida in 2013.
Jennifer Carroll. Despite time in the Florida House, Carroll simply wasn’t up to the not-particularly-challenging role as lieutenant governor. Even before Rick Scott demanded her resignation after it was revealed she was involved in a federal investigation of Internet cafes, Carroll’s star was already fading. As the first African-American to serve as lieutenant governor, there was talk that Carroll could have been a Republican candidate for statewide office down the road. That’s clearly not happening and her political career appears over.
Joe Garcia. After losing two races, this South Florida Democrat defeated scandal-plagued David Rivera to win a congressional seat in 2012. But Garcia was swamped by scandals of his own in 2013 as several of his top aides were ensnared in a voter fraud scandal. Garcia has managed to survive it so far, but Republicans are running a top challenger against him in 2014, in the person of Carlos Curbello.
Adam Hollingsworth. Despite becoming Rick Scott’s chief of staff, it was not a good year for this Jacksonville Republican. After more than nine months, Scott still doen’t have a lieutenant governor. When Hollingsworth’s name surfaced as a possiblity, the bubble quickly burst as it was revealed he lied on resumes about his education. With calls growing for him to resign, Hollingsworth starts the new year under siege.
Trey Radel. This Republican freshman in Congress seemed to be moving up the political ladder with a talent for getting attention in the national media, thanks in part to his love for rap and hip-hop music. But Radel was busted for cocaine possession and only went to rehab after the story made the headlines. Despite calls from his fellow Republicans to resign, Radel has remained in office, but he will be hard-pressed to keep it in 2014 as potential primary rivals have begun testing the waters.
Darryl Rouson. This St. Petersburg Democrat had a tough time in becoming his party’s next leader in the House. But revelations that he was keeping campaign funds for House candidates out of the state party’s hands led to a major fight with Allison Tant. House Democrats threw Rouson overboard, stripping him of his status as their next leader. While Rouson could bounce back, especially if Charlie Crist becomes governor, for the moment his stature is significantly lower in Tallahassee than it was mere months ago.
Marco Rubio. Florida’s junior senator started off 2013 as one of the favorites for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But, as 2014 begins, Rubio is an afterthought. Despite being a favorite of the tea party in 2010, conservatives turned against him in 2013 due to his prominent role in supporting immigration reform. Rubio has tried to appeal to conservatives on other issues because he remains, at best, a second-tier candidate as Republicans start lining up for 2016. While he’s not out of the mix by any means, 2013 was easily Rubio’s worst year since he emerged as a player in national politics.
Allison Tant. The new Florida Democratic Party chairwoman saw her party win some solid victories in 2013, including the St. Petersburg mayoral race and picking up a House seat in Pasco County. But Tant got bogged down in a fight with Darryl Rouson and was a public backer of Alcee Braswell, the CFO candidate who didn’t even last a week in the race before disclosures of his personal bankrupcies drove him out. Tant and her team simply didn’t vet Braswell and the Democrats still don’t have serious challengers for Jeff Atwater, Adam Putnam and for Republican incumbents in many legislative and congressional races for 2014.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.