Mark Pafford Could Haunt House Democrats in 2014

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: September 26, 2013 3:55 AM

Mark Pafford

In choosing Mark Pafford to be their next leader, Democrats in the Florida House veered to the left. With several House Democrats already facing major threats in swing districts next year, this lurch to the left could have big consequences in 2014.

Pafford’s victory over Alan Williams underscores how much the House Democrats have changed in recent years. While only a few years ago the likes of Debbie Boyd and Leonard Bembry could be found in the back rows of the House, right now there are no moderate Democrats representing North Florida districts.

To be sure, Williams is no conservative but he’s certainly more pro-business than Pafford. It’s fitting that Katie Edwards, one of the last of the Blue Dogs in the Legislature, spoke on Williams’ behalf before the vote on Wednesday night.

Pafford will have a tough task in 2014 as he looks to cut into the Republican majority that controls the House. Democrats have their opportunities to win a few House seats, including a special election for an open seat in Pasco County next month.

But, looking ahead to 2014, it seems that Democrats will be playing defense in the House. Republicans are already lining up to run against Democrat incumbents in Central Florida like Mike Clelland, Karen Castor Dentel, Linda Stewart, Joe Saunders, Carl Zimmerman and Mark Danish. In South Florida, Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez has already drawn a major Republican foe.

Republicans across the nation have done some damage by demanding whether Democrats running for Congress would cast votes for Nancy Pelosi to be House speaker. In the Big Bend, despite her best efforts to claim the legacy of her father Bob Graham, congressional hopeful Gwen Graham is doing her best to refuse to answer if she would back Pelosi to be speaker and the Republicans will no doubt go after her on this in the months to come.

Something like that could happen in Florida, since Republicans will have an easier time painting Pafford as a liberal than they would have with Williams. State House Democrats in Florida, even pro-business ones like Edwards and Larry Lee, could be facing questions about whether they would vote for Pafford as speaker. Edwards should be fine since she is in a heavily Democratic district. The same can’t be said of some of her Central Florida colleagues like Lee, Clelland, Castor Dentel, Stewart and Zimmerman.

In backing Pafford, House Democrats have swung to the left. As Republicans look to pick off some Democrat incumbents next year, Pafford could be one of the best weapons in the GOP’s arsenal.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.


Comments (9)

10:24AM SEP 26TH 2013
In your dreams, Jeff, in your dreams . . . . . much like your truthiness about "no moderate Democrats representing North Florida districts" that is disproven almost immediately as you try to argue that Alan Williams is more acceptable and moderate to you (as a Republican) than Mark Pafford . . . . .

Wouldn't be an attempt to try and divide through racial politics (i.e. the implied threat here and previously in SSN - remember the Haitian discrimination strategy - now would it) . . . . once again, partisan journalistically dishonest headline politics of the "Big Lie" (i.e. SSN "COULD" be lying all the time about everything) . . . . clearly . . .

Pathetic . . . .
9:10AM SEP 26TH 2013
Its unfortunate the the Democrats took this turn. Mark Pafford is extremely liberal and votes against business 100 percent of the time. Previous leaders were very balanced in their approach.

Trial lawyers and unions have their guy, that's for sure.
7:45AM SEP 26TH 2013
Was this article to be a revelation? Democrats exist by destroying everything that works and keeping the masses ignorant. Promising the masses utopia if only we just confiscate the evil profits and give it to the poor. How's that working in Detroit, Lansing, St. Louis, DC, Chicago, Newark, and Camden?
8:18AM SEP 26TH 2013
old 47% republican propaganda.
12:30PM SEP 26TH 2013
How is pointing out the fact that Dem run cities are in ruins 'propaganda'?
7:33PM SEP 27TH 2013
By your analogy, Republican county commissioners must be felons and belong in federal prisons . . . just like in Palm Beach County . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
8:23PM SEP 26TH 2013
because you ignore all the actual reasons for the problems and blame dem's. it is far more complicated than that. look further than simple rush limbo political rhetoric
florida's economy has been controlled by republicans for over 15 yrs. we were hit harder than many states during the recession because republican policies are so great ? the states education system has again been controlled for over 15 yrs by republicans and yet it's in chaos !
florida consumers are getting ripped off wholesale by power companies like duke energy and that's good ? unless we get some balance in state government we will continue to reduce the middle class purchasing power and our economy will never fully recover.
i could go on for days. we are better off after 15 yrs of republican domination ? i think not !!!!
6:56AM SEP 26TH 2013
people are tired of the anti consumer, special interest pandering of the republicans. we need someone to high light those facts and get some balance back in the florida legislature.
6:33AM SEP 26TH 2013
Like it really matter?! Lmao...repubs have owned the state and ransacked it for 16 yrs!!!

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