Shawn Harrison wants to make it clear that he still very much likes Eric Eisnaugle, his colleague in the Florida House. What Harrison did last week was business, not personal.
But with his decision to shift his support from Eisnaugle to Pinellas Republican Chris Sprowls, Harrison has changed the narrative about who will be Speaker of the Florida House in 2021-22.
As first reported last week by FloridaPolitics.com, Harrison issued a statement that he had changed his pledge to Sprowls after claiming an iron-clad allegiance to Eisnaugle. Harrison said he switched to end the palace intrigue that contributed to what he called a “Washington, D.C. (style) dysfunction.”
Harrison’s flip gives Sprowls a narrow lead over Eisnaugle among the shared 2014 class of members. Customarily, succeeding classes support the candidate favored by the rising senior class.
The Eisnaugle camp, however, has insisted the campaign is one for a majority of the Republican caucus.
That’s why Harrison changed his mind, the Tampa Republican explained in an interview with FloridaPolitics.com.
Becoming Speaker by winning a majority of support from your class is “the right way to go,” Harrison said Tuesday evening.
Asked whether the class of members ahead of Eisnaugle, Harrison, and Sprowls should have helped decide who will lead the legislative body after they’re gone, Harrison said the 2012 class “certainly shouldn’t have a say.”
But what about the incoming 2016 class, which includes redshirt freshman Reps. James Grant, Paul Renner, and Cyndi Stevenson? Just as we should decide who is the leader of our class, future classes should do the same, Harrison explained.
As it became more and more clear that, for whatever reason, Eisnaugle would not have the support of his own class and would need to rely on the 2016 class to secure his Speakership, Harrison said he could no longer support Eisnaugle’s bid.
Whether Harrison will be in the House to vote for Sprowls is now an issue as Democratic Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione has filed to challenge Harrison in the swing-y House District 63.
Regardless, Harrison’s speaking out is the first public challenge to Eisnaugle’s complicated plan for winning the Speaker’s race.