The next two leaders of the Florida House of Representatives are urging Republican candidates in open House seats not be “distracted” by the inside-baseball games of future House Speaker races.
In a letter emailed to the dozens of GOP candidates running in races where there is no incumbent seeking re-election, Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran and Speaker-to-be Jose Oliva say they are writing to share “some information and advice.”
The first two bullets of this advice are straightforward campaign management: “Work hard … (F)amiliarize yourself with the Florida Election Code.”
After that, Corcoran and Oliva remind the candidates that while House Majority 2016 staff are available as a resource to answer legal, financial, and political questions, it is leadership’s policy “not to involve the state Republican Party apparatus in open seat primaries.”
From there, Corcoran and Oliva get into the weeds of future House Speaker races.
“We are encouraging you in the strongest possible terms to postpone these conversations until after you are elected,” reads Corcoran and Oliva’s letter.
Almost certainly, the warning to incoming House members to not “pledge” their support to one of their colleague’s ambitions to one day serve as Speaker is a reflection of the tumult that has rocked the Florida House the past two years.
Chris Sprowls appeared to clinch the 2021-22 Speakership race this month when two more Republicans — Jacksonville Rep. Paul Renner and Orlando Rep. Mike Miller — switched their support from Rep. Eric Eisnaugle to Sprowls.
The Pinellas Republican’s apparent victory came after several members of Sprowls’ and Eisnaugle’s class called for reforms to the House Republican Conference rules and how Speakers are selected.
Presiding officers are selected by members of each class of lawmakers, often many years in advance of when they will serve. Members elected to complete part of a term — so-called redshirt freshmen — are able to serve longer than the rest of their class and typically have an advantage in leadership races over the rest of their class.
Past Speakers Tom Feeney, Marco Rubio, and even Oliva himself, benefited from that advantage.
Corcoran and Oliva sound serious about answering the call for reform. In their letter, they write, “Come November, the House Republican Conference will consider amendments to its conference rules to ensure that every newly elected House member will be on fair and equal foot to pursue leadership.”
This is the second “Papal bull” from Corcoran and Oliva. As first reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the two leaders laid out their “guiding principles” for key races in an email sent to party supporters earlier this month.