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David Richardson makes way for Gwen Margolis, will seek House seat in 2016

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State Rep. David Richardson ruffled more than a few Democratic feathers in Miami when he filed paperwork to replace state Sen. Gwen Margolis in Miami’s SD 35 before it was clear she wanted to leave it.

Richardson’s new solution? Run for both.

As first reported by Ladra in the Political Cortadito, Richardson has backed off his initial plans to run for the Senate in 2016 — before Margolis, a former Senate president and its longest-serving current member, is termed out — and instead joins fellow Democrat Andrew Korge in what is shaping up to be a liberal slug-fest replete with statewide implications and national money.

Korge, son of millionaire Democratic rainmaker Chris Korge, predicted to Florida Politics earlier this year Richardson would drop out should Margolis clarify her intentions as the second-term rep is “too classy” to stand against the dean of the Senate.

“I have way too much respect to run against her and disrespect her in that way,” said the younger Korge. “I’m a big fan of Senator Margolis, I’ve known her most of my life, and I would never, ever run against her.”

Richardson has since scrambled to make amends with Margolis as well, holding a mutual “Legislative Update” event with the senator last week at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, where he too was effusive in his praise.

Margolis took to social media to respond to the rumors thusly back in January, when the drama began to unfold:

Dear Friends,

In response to rumors that I am retiring from the Florida Senate, I would like to clarify my situation. I plan to finish my current term which ends November 2016. I am not term-limited in 2016 and I intend to continue serving the wonderful citizens of Florida’s Senate District 35. However, after the 2016 Legislative Session I will, as I have done in every one of my 40 years serving our community, consider my options and whether to pursue another term. I will continue my service to the citizens of Miami, representing you in Tallahassee for the next two sessions and beyond.

Records with the Florida Division of Elections now show Richardson in the 2016 race for his HD 113 seat based in Miami Beach as well as the 2020 race in SD 35 against Korge.

While the incumbent was away, City Commissioner Deede Weithorn and local activist Rey Valdes entered the race for his deep-blue House seat. End of quarter reports will tell us how serious that electoral threat to Richardson is sometime this week.

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Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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