Mike La Rosa: Unlikely Republican Victor 'In It for the Long Haul'
Around the State
Residence: St. Cloud
Education: University of Central Florida, B.A. Interpersonal Communications, 2000-2004
Occupation: Real estate brokerage and development
Previous Public Office(s): None.
Family: Wife, three children
Did you know? His mother-in-law, Fran Iwanski, served as Kissimmee’s first female chief of police from 2006 to 2012.
Florida’s most unlikely Republican Election Day victor is a newcomer to the political scene, picked by his party to replace a candidate who resigned in disgrace from a sex scandal – but don’t let that fool you. Rep. Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud tells Sunshine State News he’s in it for the long haul.
La Rosa, the son of a Cuban immigrant, first came to public light in late September, when the Republican executive committees of Osceola and Polk counties announced their selection of him to replace incumbent Rep. Mike Horner of Kissimmee, who dropped out of the District 42 race after it came to light that he had been involved in a prostitution ring.
La Rosa ran in Horner’s place, campaigning for just 42 days, even though according to local and state laws Horner’s name would remain on the ballot. La Rosa won the race against Democrat Eileen Game by just 529 votes,
And La Rosa insists he’s no mere placeholder.
“I don’t want to do this for just two years; I want to be ‘Rep. Mike La Rosa’ for a full eight years,” he tells Sunshine State News, referring to the maximum number of consecutive years he can serve as a representative under the state constitutional term limits. “I don’t feel like I can get enough done in two years to make the difference I want to and serve my community.”
That difference, he says, is “getting government out of the way” -- i.e.., reducing the number of taxes, fees, and regulations imposed on Floridians, especially businesses. La Rosa, a small-business owner himself, sits on the State Affairs Committee and the Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee – two assignments he specifically requested of House Speaker Will Weatherford – as well as the Local and Federal Affairs Committee, Energy and Utilities Subcommittee, and Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.
One of the bills he says he will be introducing is one which would allow vehicle owners to receive refunds of their registration fees if they sell their vehicles before the end of their registration period.
"This affects everybody on a daily basis,” La Rosa tells the News. “If I pay for two years in advance but only use six months of the registration, there’s possibly a hundred dollars sitting there on the table that I’ve paid for but have no use for.”
He admits, however, that his own priorities might not align with those of House and Senate leadership. La Rosa tells the News he believes job creation will, “unfortunately,” take a back seat to health care, in particular Florida’s implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare").
Though he opposes the Democrats’ health care law, and doesn't think Florida can afford to implement it or to expand Medicaid according to some of the law’s optional provisions, La Rosa suggests the state might be better off setting up its own health insurance exchanges instead of leaving it to the federal government.
“I don’t, at this time, want to say what the state should do specifically,” he tells Sunshine State News. “But I’ll tell you this: states should try to have as much control as possible and not allow the federal government to dictate what we do and how we do it.”
La Rosa doesn't come from a family of politicians, not unless you count his mother-in-law, Fran Iwanski, who served as Kissimmee’s first female chief of police from 2006 to 2012.
"I’m an everyday guy who feels that government gets in the way too many times, whether in our everyday life or business matters; I don’t believe the government should be telling us what to do,” he tells the News. “That’s what inspired me to jump in. You don’t need to be a politician to be involved in politics.”
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (954) 235-9116.