Although Richard Corcoran was undoubtedly the most powerful man in Tallahassee this year, the House Speaker from Trinity comes in a surprising second in this year’s survey.
But nobody ruled the state capitol like Corcoran did this past spring, winning the battle (at least so far) with Gov. Rick Scott in gutting VISIT Florida and substantially downsizing Enterprise Florida under the mantra of “no more corporate welfare.”
Corcoran also made enemies out of local government officials who are already cutting back on their 2018 budgets after the House voted to put a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot to increase the homestead exemption.
Addressing his House colleagues in November, Corcoran announced sweeping new transparency rules, including severe restrictions on lobbyists and demanding that any earmark in the state budget must come with its own standalone bill.
“If you can’t manage to convince even 1 of 120 House members to file your bill; if you can’t withstand a few weeks of public scrutiny; if you don’t have sufficient documentation to prove that the appropriation is legitimate — then you don’t deserve taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Later would come his jihad against “corporate welfare,” specifically in the public-private partnerships Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida.
“Even though Richard has been in office for several years now, I truly believe he is only just beginning his political career,” says his friend, Pasco County Property Tax Collector Mike Fasano. “I have no doubt that Richard’s term as Speaker of the House is just the start of a long and successful career.”
Could that be a run for Senate or Governor in 2018? With another year left as House Speaker, Corcoran is as powerful as it gets in Tallahassee without already having those titles.
Corcoran was ranked No. 1 in the 2016 survey.
Joe Henderson’s Take
“I had him ranked No. 1 on my list, mostly because I think he is the most powerful politician in the state. He set off an earthquake in Tallahassee in his first year as House Speaker and his rout of Gov. Scott’s spending agenda was epic theatre. No question he made enemies along the way, but I don’t think he gives two hoots about that. Few people can ever say they changed the landscape the way Corcoran has. What’s next? Corcoran says he will either run for governor or not run at all. My guess is it will be the latter.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.