Yesterday, while doing some spring cleaning (ie. throwing things out) I stumbled upon the 1996 edition of the always handy “Know Your Legislators” legislative directory put out each year by Associated Industries of Florida. This happens to be the very last session the Democrats had a majority in the House.
The spread in the Senate was 22-18 Republican after former Senate President W.D. Childers of Pensacola became a Republican on the eve of the 1995 session. In the House the spread was 63-57 Democratic. This majority was simply a paper majority as after the 1994 Election when the Democrats had lost eight seats, many more conservative Dems seeing the writing on the wall began voting regularly with the GOP and against Governor Lawton Chiles. Several of these legislators would switch parties after the Republicans captured the House by a 61-59 margin later in the year.
The House Speaker was Peter Rudy Wallace of St Petersburg, a liberal Democrat, while Jim Scott a Fort Lauderdale Republican whose legislative and county political career would span over three decades was the Senate President. Orlando’s Dan Webster currently in Congress was the House Minority Leader. Later that year, Webster would became the first Republican House Speaker since reconstruction. The Senate Minority Leader was Ken Jenne of Fort Lauderdale.
Here we are nearly 20 years later and Daniel Webster is still feeding at the public trough……..so much for part time citizen legislators!