Florida Democrats eager to show a unified front in the campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott, must first deal with an ugly civil war within the state House caucus that is expected to reach a head Monday. The House’s 44 Democrats have scheduled a rare, closed-door caucus where Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg could be removed as incoming leader. If Rouson, indeed, is overthrown, already mentioned as a possible successor is Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach.
The intra-party drama is the latest for out-of-power Florida Democrats in a year marked by a contested struggle for the state party’s top job, the withdrawal of a highly touted candidate for a Cabinet post amid revelations of personal bankruptcies, and the emergence of former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, whose party switch has made him most likely the party’s best bet to take on Scott. Republicans are just enjoying the show.
Rouson antagonized fellow Democrats last month by creating a campaign fund-raising committee separate from the Florida Democratic Party. State Democratic Chair Allison Tant was kept in the dark about the endeavor. She saw the move as a betrayal and quickly fired two party staffers who assisted Rouson in establishing the committee.