When the history of the 2025-26 Legislative Sessions is written — undoubtedly Tallahassee Democrat reporter Bill Cottrell will be on his sixth retirement by then — what transpired July 25, 2017, may play a definitive role.
Republican Jose Felix Diaz and Democrat Annette Taddeo will meet in a special election to replace Frank Artiles, who resigned after using a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues.
Unofficial online results show Diaz took 58 percent of the vote in his primary Tuesday against two opponents. Taddeo won 71 percent over one rival in her race. The Miami-Dade County seat goes to the winner of the Sept. 26 special election.
While Diaz and Taddeo delivered decisive victories, the House District 116 Republican primary was tighter. Political newcomer Daniel Anthony Perez defeated Jose Mallea, a longtime Republican political operative, by nearly 10-points (well that isn’t too tight of a result). Perez, an attorney, will face Gabriela Mayaudon in the Sept. 26 special general election.
So how will a handful of election results shape the Florida Legislature eight years from now? Consider:
— The dream of the first Cuban-American Senate President is one step closer to fruition with Diaz’ win in the SD 40 GOP primary. If Diaz can get past Taddeo in the special general election and subsequently win re-election, he will have a leg up in the leadership race to succeed Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson, and, let’s say, Dana Young.
Diaz will be part of the incoming 2018 class, which will be a small one since there are just a couple of open, Republican-leaning seats. Ben Albritton will likely succeed Denise Grimsley, while Ed Hooper is in line to win the seat currently held by Jack Latvala.
— By winning the GOP primary in HD 116, Perez could also be in the mix for Speaker in the next decade — assuming he wins the special general election. If he does win, Perez will be a redshirt freshman, meaning he will get to serve all of this and next year without it counting against the eight-year term limit cap. Redshirt freshmen have won more than their fair share of Speaker’s races, including the most recent scrum between Paul Renner and James W. Grant.
— Another development which could shape future legislative sessions is Rep. Dan Raulerson announcing he is resigning his House seat come August. This will create a domino effect that will lead to the election of a redshirt freshman legislator from a Tampa Bay House seat. Whoever this is (one name we’re already hearing about as a possible Raulerson’s successor is Lawrence McClure) will likely be part of a future Speaker’s race.
There are countless reasons why what is discussed here won’t happen. For example, Florida Democrats could actually get their act together and reclaim control of the House, Senate or both. But if you are part of the legislative process 10 years from now, you’ll remember what happened in the summer of 2017.