St. Petersburg-based Democrat Darryl Rouson barely advanced from the House to the Senate last year, defeating former state Rep. Ed Narain in the Hillsborough County-centric Senate District 19 race by just 75 votes.
Rouson proposed 31 bills before the session began, and as someone who has been known to work well with Republicans (sometimes too well, for some Democrats’ tastes) was listed as a co-sponsor on 20 other bills, many introduced by GOP members.
A pioneer of sorts, Rouson became the first African-American prosecutor in Pinellas County where he was also awarded the Florida Prosecutor Association Award in 1981. And in March, he was one of just a very few number of Democrats named by House Speaker Richard Corcoran to the Constitution Revision Commission.
A former Republican, Rouson has been known to tick off his Democratic colleagues on occasion with his voting record. This year he supported a broader homestead exemption bill that will go before the voters in 2018, despite the exhortations of local leaders that the proposal will compel Pinellas and St. Petersburg to have to cut back needed services and lay off workers.
Joe Henderson’s Take
“He represents a weirdly drawn Senate district that includes both Temple Terrace in north Hillsborough and Gulfport in south Pinellas. I like the fact that he cooperates with Republicans even though he is a Democrat rather than standing as a rigid ideologue. A lot of people in his party don’t share that opinion, but I think that cooperation is why he was one of a handful of Democrats named to the state constitutional review group. To have any sort of influence, you have to be in the room where things happen.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.