Not only is Richard Corcoran, the 51-year-old Land O’ Lakes state Representative, the most powerful lawmaker in the Tampa Bay area for the second consecutive year, he’s arguably the most influential legislator in Florida.
Corcoran’s influence stems from his perch as House Appropriations Committee chairman, and his upcoming promotion to House Speaker after this fall’s elections.
His star-making moment came in April 2015, when on consecutive days he challenged the status quo in two fiery speeches. He invited the state Senate to “come to war” with the House to take on the “Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interests, powers-that-be” responsible for Florida’s broken healthcare system.
With the Senate pushing the House to take up Medicaid expansion in 2014, Corcoran vowed the House wouldn’t “dance” with the upper chamber.
“They want us to come dance,” he said in words reprinted up and down the state. “We are not dancing. We are not dancing this session, we are not dancing next session, we are not dancing next summer. We’re not dancing. And if you want to blow up the process because somehow you think you have the right that doesn’t exist, have at it. But we are going to do what’s right.”
Corcoran was also an implacable bulwark in this year’s Session against Gov. Rick Scott’s $250 million request to fund Enterprise Florida.
“I’m most impressed with Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran’s leadership during the budget negotiations this session,” Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano said. “Arguably one of the most difficult positions in leadership, the budget chair ultimately is responsible for ushering Florida’s multibillion-dollar budget through the process and to the governor’s desk. Chairman Corcoran’s courage to stand up to the governor and oppose the ‘corporate welfare’ package was a true highlight of his chairmanship.”
Not everything the Speaker touches turns to gold, though. Like every other Speaker of the House in the modern Republican era, Corcoran supported Jeb Bush over Marco Rubio for U.S. president this year, despite being Rubio’s chief of staff and special counsel.
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