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Ardian Zika

Ardian Zika endorsed by former Pasco state Senator

Ardian Zika has added another backer in his bid to replace term-limited House Speaker Richard Corcoran in House District 37.

The Land O’ Lakes Republican announced Wednesday that John Grant, who represented Pasco and Hillsborough counties in the Florida Senate from 1986 to 2000, had endorsed him in the four-way Republican Primary for Pasco County-based seat.

“For fourteen years the voters of Pasco County gave me the honor of representing them in the Florida Senate,” Grant said. “They elected and re-elected me because I shared their values. Ardian Zika shares those same values and that’s why I am supporting his election to the Florida House of Representatives, District 37.”

Grant joins St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, former House Speaker Will Weatherford,  Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, and the Fraternal Order of Police in endorsing Zika.

“I am honored to have former Florida State Senator John Grant’s endorsement,” Zika said. “Senator Grant represented the residents of Pasco County for fourteen years in our state capitol. He fought for lower taxes, less government, more personal responsibility and freedom. I am grateful for Senator Grant’s example and for his support and endorsement of my campaign.”

Zika is running against Ryan BoneyBill Gunter and Elle Rudisill in the primary. Democrats Tammy Garcia and Denise Mestanza-Taylor are also running.

Through April, Zika had raised more than $183,000 for his campaign and had $170,000 in the bank. Rudisill is in a distant second place with $13,500 banked, while Boney and Gunter each have $0 in their campaign accounts.

HD 37 covers the majority of inland Pasco County, including the communities of Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Heritage Pines, Shady Hills, Meadow Oaks and Moon Lake.

The district is a Republican stronghold. Corocran never faced an Election Day challenger in his three re-election campaigns since HD 37 was redrawn. The seat voted plus-27 for Donald Trump in 2016.

School boards continue battle over controversial law

School boards from across the state have gone to the 1st District Court of Appeal as they continue to challenge a controversial 2017 law that includes steps to boost charter schools.

Eleven districts signed on to notices filed last week indicating they will appeal an April 17 ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper that upheld the law. As is common, the notices do not detail the arguments the school boards will make at the Tallahassee-based appeals court.

The legal battle centers on a measure, commonly known as HB 7069, that was a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, and became one of most-controversial issues of the 2017 Legislative Session. The wide-ranging law included changes such as requiring county school boards to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools for building-related expenses. It also set the stage for adding new charter schools — dubbed “schools of hope” — that will serve students whose traditional public schools have been considered low-performing.

School boards filed the lawsuit last year arguing, at least in part, that HB 7069 infringed on their constitutional authority to operate public schools within their districts.

 But Cooper rejected the school boards’ arguments.

One notice of appeal was filed last week by the school boards in Alachua, Bay, Broward, Hamilton, Lee, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, St. Lucie and Volusia counties, according to documents posted on the Leon County clerk of courts website. Another notice was filed by the Collier County School Board, which intervened in the case after it was originally filed in circuit court.

John Morgan on Richard Corcoran: Don’t go to your own ‘ass kicking’

Orlando attorney John Morgan told reporters Wednesday that he supported the decision of his friend, outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran, to end his bid for the Governor’s Office before it even formally started.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, last week endorsed Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, currently term-limited as Commissioner of Agriculture.

Morgan, who aligns with Democrats, said he had told Corcoran several weeks ago he couldn’t catch up in the money game, having been already out-fundraised by Putnam and with GOP Congressman Ron DeSantis putting up a formidable challenge.

“I told him it’s all about money,” Morgan said in Tallahassee, before a trial in his lawsuit over the state’s medical marijuana smoking ban. “The question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up.

“You know, he was somebody I have helped,” added Morgan, who flirted with his own run for governor. “He’s a friend of mine. He’s someone I would have helped on the Republican side. He made the right decision … I think he knew he was gonna get beat.

“If I knew I was gonna get beat, I wouldn’t like to go to my own ass kicking,” he added.

Morgan also weighed in on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s re-election chances against Gov. Rick Scott, the Naples Republican challenging him for the seat.

Nelson “is in for a dogfight,” he said. “He’s got to get busy. You cannot underestimate Rick Scott. He’s methodical, ever ready with money. He’s like a bald (Energizer) bunny. He never stops. He’s got the message. If I were Bill Nelson, I’d be worried.”

Lawmakers’ hobbies amuse and confuse on social media

From karaoke to ballroom dancing to ice sculpting, the hobbies of Florida’s legislators are legion.

A Florida Politics reporter recently noticed and tweeted that Rep. Carlos G. Smith, an Orlando Democrat, listed but one “recreational interest,” karaoke, on his legislative info page.

That sparked a number of responses on social media last week.

TCPalm reporter Ali Schmitz noted that outgoing Senate President Joe Negron declares “courthouse architecture” as an interest. Must be all those columns.

Sun-Sentinel reporter Dan Sweeney chimed in: “You guys have cracked open a never-ending font of amazement. Reviewing the recreational interests of state reps is kind of a hobby of mine,” he tweeted.

“Along with the aforementioned, I’d also point you to the ballroom dancing of @ColleenLBurton and the ice sculpting of @JoeGruters.”

Burton soon defended her honor: “So you know, I competed in 2011. #notnicetohobbyshame

Lara Medley, Burton’s legislative assistant, also tweeted: “I would like a demonstration of Representative @JoeGruters hobby please.” Gruters liked that tweet but did not respond.

Sweeney added: “Not to mention the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of @AmyMercado and the fact that @JamesGrantFL lists ‘the woods’ as a recreational interest without saying what it is he does there, which leaves a lot to the imagination.”

Undoubtedly after some #FlaPol Twitterati head scratching, Grant took to Twitter to explain: “Lest there be any confusion, bow & bird hunting.

“Fly rods on the water, my bow or Berettas in the woods, & a hockey stick on the ice are the 3 scenarios where I can truly get lost enough to make the world around me stop,” he added. “And no, I don’t get any of the 3 enough. #CarryOn …”

Even POLITICO Florida scribe Marc Caputo weighed in with a memory: The late “Sen. Larcenia Bullard had the best hobby in the clerk’s manual once: ‘collecting butterfly-shaped objects.’ I’m not making this up.”

Indeed, he was not. An old clerk’s manual confirmed that hobby, along with “skating,” “pinochle” and others. Bullard died in 2013 after serving 18 years in the Legislature. 

Outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran lists no hobbies. With six kids, he’s busy.

Weekly roundup: Friends and foes

Former foes Adam Putnam and Richard Corcoran began a public bromance this week, with Corcoran clearing the deck for the agriculture commissioner in what will now largely be a two-man Republican primary for governor.

But in contrast to the lovey-dovey development in GOP-land, the situation took a decidedly nasty turn on the other side of the aisle in the race to succeed outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and her supporters launched a two-day offensive against one of her primary opponents, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, in response to an attack ad released by The Collective Super PAC, a group that backs black candidates, including Gillum.

The Collective is spending upward of $700,000 on the ad, which is running on West Palm Beach television stations and South Florida cable networks and is clearly targeted toward Democratic base voters.

The 30-second spot slams Graham’s voting record during her short stint in Congress, where she “voted against President Obama 52 percent of the time,” backed the Keystone Pipeline, sided “with the big banks” and “trashed” Obamacare.

“Gwen Graham is not the progressive she claims to be,” the voice-over warns.

Graham’s campaign shop went into overdrive in response to what appears to be the first negative ad in the Democratic primary, going ballistic on social media and issuing numerous news releases expressing outrage from a slew of surrogates who joined the former congresswoman’s demand that Gillum order the ad be taken down.

“I am disgusted that Andrew Gillum would allow a secret-money group to run a false attack against a fellow Democrat,” Graham said in one of more than a dozen email responses to the ad.

Instead of backing down, Gillum’s camp doubled-down, accusing Graham of relying on super-PAC sustenance during her congressional bid four years ago.

“It’s hypocritical for the Graham campaign to denounce outside spending and now call it ‘dark money’ when it doesn’t benefit her like it did in 2014. Her ‘very conservative’ record is on full display, and this campaign should be about her record against the mayor’s record,” Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan said in a statement.

I love you, man

The Collective has pledged to spend over $1.5 million to help Gillum become Florida’s first black governor, which means the throwdown over the “52 percent” ad is likely just a taste of what’s to come this summer.

While it’s certain that the Dems won’t be the only ones slinging slime before the August primary election, Putnam now has one less mud-thrower to duck after winning the support of Corcoran, the House speaker who had toyed with the idea of entering the GOP gubernatorial primary before walking away this week.

Proving once again it’s all about the Benjamins, Corcoran blamed his exit from the race he never officially joined on a lack of greenbacks.

“Florida is an expensive state. It costs a lot of money to run,” Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, said during an appearance Wednesday with Putnam in Tallahassee.

Through the end of March, Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC political committee had raised $6.86 million and spent $4.6 million, with $3.7 million spent in the first three months of this year. Despite the spending, which included a controversial television ad on so-called “sanctuary cities,” Corcoran never gained much traction in the GOP race with Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Palm Coast.

Corcoran said he would adhere to his pledge to either run for governor “or go home,” ruling out a move to another statewide race, such as the contest for attorney general. He also said he would not serve as Putnam’s lieutenant governor if asked to join the ticket.

“I’ve passionately said for the last year that I was going to run for governor or go home. And I’m proud to say that that decision is clearly that we’re going home,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran said he decided to endorse Putnam because he believes the two-term state Cabinet member will continue and extend the conservative legacy of the Scott administration, including on tax cuts and educational reforms.

“Adam is sincere. He is authentic. He is principled. He is passionate. He loves this state,” Corcoran said.

Putnam welcomed Corcoran’s backing.

“To have the endorsement, to have the support of someone who knows Florida so well and is so passionate about Florida’s future and is such a principled conservative means everything in the world to me,” Putnam said.

But signaling a contentious Aug. 28 primary, the DeSantis campaign characterized the endorsement as an “insider” deal between two longtime members of the Tallahassee establishment, noting Corcoran and Putnam have disagreed on issues, including immigration.

“Career politician, Adam Putnam, will now get the two-man race he’s been fearing for a year,” DeSantis spokesman David Vasquez said in a statement. “A conservative Iraq veteran (DeSantis) endorsed by Donald Trump versus a ‘Never Trump’ career politician who supported amnesty for illegal aliens. We like our odds.”

War on drugs … Treatment

Some lawmakers were stunned to learn that Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones is slicing substance-abuse programs for prisoners in the midst of an opioid crisis gripping Florida and the nation.

But the raised eyebrows won’t translate into action, at least not right now.

House and Senate leaders said this week they don’t have any plans to plug a $28 million budget gap at the corrections agency that sparked Jones’s decision.

Jones announced last week she is slashing contracts with nearly three dozen substance-abuse and re-entry providers — programs considered integral to reducing recidivism and helping inmates transition back into society — by at least 40 percent because the money is needed to cover the cost of a contract for prison health services.

“What I would encourage our partners who are facing these cuts to do is to double-down on their efforts to find efficiencies and understand that, when we return in November, this is going to be something that many of us are eager to address,” Senate budget chief Rob Bradley, a Republican from Fleming Island, said in an interview Thursday.

After the November elections, lawmakers will begin working to prepare next year’s budget.

Jones said the cuts, which are already being implemented in time for the July 1 start of the new fiscal year, were necessary because lawmakers did not fully fund the corrections agency, which is running about $80 million in the red.

The reductions sparked an outcry from providers, who could be forced to lay off 600 employees, according to Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association Executive Director Mark Fontaine.

“The contracted substance-abuse funding is only 1.5 percent of the department’s $2.4 billion budget. Hard to believe there aren’t other options available,” Fontaine said.

Story of the week: Throwing his support behind Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced he will not run for governor.

Quote of the week: “I don’t think we had the resources to move forward.” — House Speaker Richard Corcoran announcing he is staying out of the governor’s race.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Joe Henderson: We haven’t seen the last of Richard Corcoran

While it unquestionably is the right time for Richard Corcoran to go home to Land O’Lakes, as he promised to do if he didn’t run for Governor, that doesn’t mean he will stay there.

At age 53, Corcoran has a lot of hop left on his political fastball. I would be stunned if we don’t see him in a significant role if Adam Putnam is elected Governor this fall.

It became clear in recent weeks that a Corcoran candidacy was attracting stifled yawns from the electorate. I’ll give him credit for seeing the landscape as it really was and not pushing a losing hand. Aligning with Putnam was the smart play for him, and we’ll see how that unfolds.

I’m not saying there was a quid-pro-quo between Putnam and Corcoran that led to the outgoing Florida House Speaker’s exit Wednesday from a race he never officially entered. But his rapid endorsement of Putnam means we shouldn’t be surprised if Corcoran shows up somewhere in a Putnam administration.

For instance, would anyone be shocked if he took a prominent role in education leadership? Those aren’t elected positions, and Corcoran is passionate about changing the way Florida’s children receive their education.

He is a lawyer, so he can go back to that full-time if he chooses. He is a family man with growing children, so staying closer to home would have appeal. His political expertise would be in demand if he wants to do some consulting.

Obviously, all that is speculation until we see how the election shakes out. And while pundits are combing through the story of Corcoran’s gambit looking for deeper meaning, I doubt it will have much impact on the Republican primary or general election.

Corcoran had raised a lot of money and spent time trying to build drama for what looked like a commitment to run, but his campaign that technically wasn’t a campaign didn’t go anywhere.

It wasn’t happening.

It’s interesting how someone who spent as much time in the headlines as Corcoran couldn’t penetrate the public consciousness. His name recognition, for good or not, should have been considerable.

Political writers penned a lot of stories about Corcoran, and the impact of his two years as Speaker was considerable.

Florida’s public-school leaders basically spit on the ground when his name is mentioned.

He was an unapologetic antagonist to the education status quo, and that meant shepherding through laws that benefitted charter schools and forced cash-strapped public schools to look for pennies in the seat cushions.

For all that impact, though, his name didn’t connect with a big majority of Florida voters.

Even after his ill-considered attempt to terrify citizens with that horrible commercial about undocumented immigrants and murder, his name still didn’t register on the radar of everyday Floridians.

So, even though he is in Putnam’s corner, it’s likely nothing that will tilt the election.

Corcoran would have been the X-factor in the Republican primary, which now is a two-man scrum between Putnam and Fox News darling Ron DeSantis.

But even though he won’t be on the ballot this time or maybe ever again, we haven’t seen the last of Corcoran.

It’s up to the individual to decide if that’s good news or ill.

Richard Corcoran endorses Adam Putnam; won’t appear on ballot

State House Speaker Richard Corcoran, once widely expected to enter the Governor’s race, has endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, made the announcement Wednesday morning at the Florida Association of Realtors. The move ends long-running speculation the Speaker would run for Governor — or any other office in 2018

Corcoran, who is term-limited this fall, framed the decision to stay off the ballot as sticking to his “word.” He told media repeatedly that he’d run for Governor or otherwise “go home.”

“I’m proud to say that decision is, thoroughly, we’re going home,” Corcoran said after delivering his endorsement of the Agriculture Commissioner.

News broke Tuesday night of Corcoran’s intent to back Putnam and stay out of the gubernatorial race. He teased a “big announcement” last week, at which point guesswork from political circles produced theories of an entrance into the Attorney General race or maintained he’d make a late debut into the Governor’s race.

In endorsing Putnam, Corcoran lauded the Bartow native’s character and commitment to the state.

“Adam is sincere, he is authentic, he is principled, he is passionate,” Corcoran said. “He loves this state.”

The Speaker also pointed to the field of gubernatorial competition, particularly Democrats, and messaged his support as a move to avoid the consequence of a potential Democratic victory.

He listed the accomplishments of Republican control in Florida. Among them: cutting taxes and red tape, reducing state debt, adding to reserves, building up the state university system and contributing to overall job growth.

All Democratic candidates, Corcoran said, intend to walk back those successes.

“What’s daunting, what’s troubling is that we have every Democratic candidate taking the position that they’re going to roll back and overregulate as much as they possibly can. They’re going to raise taxes, they’re going to take all of those victories and put those burdens back on the people of the state that can ill-afford them — while right now [Floridians] are prospering to a tremendous degree,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran said he isn’t one to “sit on the sidelines” after making a decision. After opting not to run for the Governor’s Mansion, it took him “2.2. seconds” to determine he’d back Putnam.

Fundraising totals evidenced the Speaker’s early intent to run. At the end of 2017, Corcoran-affiliated Watchdog PAC had amassed more than $6 million in contributions. Testing the waters of the electorate, the PAC doled out early spends on issue-based ads and self-promos in 2018, so much so that at the end of April Watchdog had under $2 million at the ready. The amount pales in comparison to Putnam’s cash prowess; he’s raised more than $28 million to date.

As far as the remaining cash in Watchdog is concerned, Corcoran said he’d sit down with leadership to discuss where the money should go. He hinted it might shift over to competitive statewide legislative races.

“I think what’s also important is that we maintain a majority in the [state] House and a majority in the [state] Senate,” Corcoran said. He added he’ll be meeting with state Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, who chairs the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, or the GOP campaign arm of the state Senate. 

Some of the cash also could end up in Putnam’s hands, Corcoran said.

“I think it’s important that Florida is a bellwether state; what happens in Florida goes to every other single state,” Corcoran said.

The Republican primary now boasts just two candidates. Putnam will compete with full-throated support from Corcoran as a longtime concierge of the Sunshine State, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, of Ponte Vedra, will run with the backing of President Donald Trump.

The DeSantis campaign has framed the recent endorsement as something that “only matters to insiders.”

“Conservative principles don’t matter to career insiders, just deals and deal making,” DeSantis camp press secretary David Vasquez said. “That’s why we’re not surprised to see this corrupt bargain even after Richard Corcoran accurately called out Adam Putnam’s support for amnesty for illegal immigrants. Or after Adam Putnam said he wouldn’t have signed Richard Corcoran’s signature school choice legislation. But when you’re in the Tallahassee swamp, conservative principles are expendable for political expediency.”

Talk of DeSantis was limited Wednesday morning, though Corcoran showed that he won’t refrain from campaigning against the congressman on Putnam’s behalf.

When asked about DeSantis’ remarks, Corcoran quipped, “Was it from a studio in New York?”

Ron DeSantis campaign on Richard Corcoran endorsement of Adam Putnam: Who cares?

The imminent endorsement Wednesday morning of Adam Putnam for governor by the man who almost made it a three-Republcian field, Richard Corcoran, is being mocked by the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’ campaign characterized the expected endorsement by Florida House Speaker Corcoran of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Putnam as a “career insider” endorsing “fellow career insider.”

This is what career political insiders do, suggested David Vasquez, press secretary for Ron DeSantis for Governor.

“Insiders only know how to play one game, and that’s making deals to save their own skin,” Vasquez stated in a news release issued Wednesday morning. “After a year of campaigning and millions of dollars of special interest money spent, career insider Adam Putnam’s campaign has flatlined. So, he’s turning to dealmaking in the Tallahassee swamp. Today he’ll stand in the shadow of the state capital in the middle of the Tallahassee swamp and receive the endorsement of a fellow career insider, one that will only matter to his fellow swamp dwellers.”

DeSantis is the congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach riding the endorsement of President Donald Trump. In a news release issued Wednesday morning, Vasquez characterized the two-man field for the August 28 Republican primary nomination for governor as  a candidate endorsed by Trump “vs. a Never Trump career politician.”

“Conservative principles don’t matter to career insiders, just deals and dealmaking,” Vasquez continued. “That’s why we’re not surprised to see this corrupt bargain even after Richard Corcoran accurately called out Adam Putnam’s support for amnesty for illegal immigrants. Or after Adam Putnam said he wouldn’t have signed Richard Corcoran’s signature school choice legislation. But when you’re in the Tallahassee swamp, conservative principles are expendable for political expediency.”

“Career politician, Adam Putnam, will now get the two-man race he’s been fearing for a year,” he concluded. “A conservative Iraq Veteran endorsed by Donald Trump vs. a Never Trump career politician who supported amnesty for illegal aliens. We like our odds.”

Richard Corcoran

Richard Corcoran to forego statewide run; will back Adam Putnam for Governor

Onlookers have been wondering for weeks when House Speaker Richard Corcoran would do the expected and put his name in the hat to be Florida’s next governor.

After millions raised and millions spent testing the water for a potential statewide run, his announcement is sure to be a shocker: He isn’t running, he’s endorsing Adam Putnam.

Several sources close to one or both men confirm Corcoran’s decision.

Corcoran will join Putnam at a press conference at the Florida Association of REALTORS® at 9:30 a.m.

Supporters of Putnam are already excited by the news of the Speaker backing the Polk Republican’s bid.

“The Speaker has long been identified as closer in ideology with Ron DeSantis, so for him to join our team is a very big win,” said one Putnam booster.

Brad Herold, an adviser to the DeSantis campaign, had a different take.

“Career politician Adam Putnam will now get the two-man race he’s been fearing for a year,” he said. “A conservative Iraq veteran endorsed by Donald Trump versus a Never Trump career politician who supported amnesty for illegal aliens. I like our odds.“

Florida Democrats took it a step further, saying the Corcoran endorsement was “the swamp creatures of the world” uniting, and claiming that Corcoran’s policy positions “which include selling out students to the charter school industry, demonizing immigrants, and vehemently opposing Medicaid expansion” would no nothing but hurt Putnam.

“With the candidates now set, the Republican gubernatorial primary will be a brutal contest between the worst of Washington and the worst of Tallahassee. This is going to be one of the ugliest, hottest summers Florida Republicans have ever seen — and whoever emerges as the eventual nominee will be deeply damaged,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kevin Donohoe.

The endorsement ends months of speculation that Corcoran would seek the Governor’s mansion by running to the right of DeSantis, a northeast Florida congressman who has earned the backing of President Donald Trump and numerous GOP rainmakers, including Sheldon Adelson and Robert Mercer.

Putnam would be considered the more moderate candidate if he, Corcoran and DeSantis were the triumvirate Republican voters had to choose from.

For a while, it seemed as if Corcoran was going to go through with a far-right primary campaign.

His opening salvo in the race to replace termed out Gov. Rick Scott was a controversial commercial that highlighted the story of Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by an undocumented immigrant who was later acquitted of murder.

His focus on banning so-called “sanctuary cities” in both the ad and in his role has House Speaker led to a debate against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor.

At the time, Corcoran had been announcing six-figure fundraising hauls and ad buys month in and month out, so one could be forgiven for thinking the stunt was a preview ahead of a possible general election showdown.

Corcoran had long said he’d announce his future plans after the 2018 Legislative Session, which was Scott’s plan as well, but in the nearly two months since he last banged the gavel as House Speaker he’s gone radio silent.

In the meantime, DeSantis has blown by him in fundraising and Putnam shows no sign of letting up on that front either.

Corcoran’s viability in that three-way race has diminished with each passing week he’s been on the sidelines, leading some to speculate that if he were to run, his campaign would be more to spoil DeSantis’ chances than to succeed Scott.

That theory gets the end goal right, it seems. As far as what’s next for the Land O’ Lakes Republican, that’s anyone’s guess. At least until tomorrow morning.

This story is developing.

Richard Corcoran

Who will have the ‘come to Jesus’ talk with Richard Corcoran?

Richard Corcoran promises to make a big announcement this week, but, at this point in the election cycle, what it will be is anyone’s guess.

By now, the Pasco Republican was supposed to have made the GOP primary for Florida governor a three horse race, but, for a variety of reasons, Corcoran is still on the outside looking in.

Florida’s political media, including, most notably, the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith has feasted on Corcoran’s failure to launch.

“What became of Richard Corcoran’s allegedly brilliant political mind?” Smith asked in a recently column. “Maybe it never actually extended beyond the Capitol.”

Corcoran’s relationship with the media has always been a double-edged sword. He’s probably given more access to more reporters than any other House Speaker of the modern Republican era. He seems to genuinely enjoy talking with and, on some occasions, sparring with individual reporters.

Of course, too much of the legislative process is now conducted behind closed doors, but Corcoran has certainly been the most accessible state leader within the triumvirate of the Governor, Senate President and House Speaker. Yet, as Joe Negron prepares to exit early from the Legislature, it’s the Stuart Republican who is being lauded by the press.

“Can’t wait to see what’s next for @joenegronfl,” tweeted Lawrence Reisman of the TC Palm. “He’s grown a lot as a legislator in the dozen or so years I’ve covered him. I’ve admired his conservative pragmatism.”

It would be quite surprising if any member of the Capitol Press Corps gushes about ‘what’s next’ for Corcoran, despite him and his chamber being significantly more transparent than Negron and most of the rest of the Senate.

No matter how accessible Corcoran was, his politics were never going to endear him with the reporters, columnists, and editorial writers who follow the legislative process. Corcoran probably should have known better — or at least remembered the axiom that if you live by the press, you will die by the press.

And that’s the question facing Corcoran this week: Does his political career live on, or is it over? And if it’s really over, who will have the come to Jesus talk with him?

Who is going to tell the man who for the last two years has been the second most powerful politician in the state that his dream of becoming Florida governor is just not going to happen. It may have been within his grasp six months ago, but he overplayed his hand by spending millions of dollars on a controversial television ad that, at the end of the day, scared the crap out of people. He would have been better served putting all of that money behind the cute spot he cut ahead of the Super Bowl.

Even if that ad had resonated and Corcoran had broken through the noise, it probably still would not have mattered. Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis have not left enough room for Corcoran to operate. It’s just impossible to get to the right of DeSantis and Putnam has a lock on the establishment support. There just isn’t a third lane in the Republican primary. Not for a candidate who can’t self-fund.

I write this as if Corcoran doesn’t know this already. He does. His pollster, Tony Fabrizio does. But he still may run, just to deny DeSantis the nomination.

Or Corcoran may run for Attorney General. That’s what former Rick Scott spokesman Brian Burgess has been saying all along. That’s what I tweeted a week ago. There seems to be momentum for Corcoran in that direction. One rumor is that he’s talked with his brother, powerful lobbyist Michael Corcoran, about him stepping down as the finance chair of Ashley Moody‘s campaign so as to avoid any awkward moments if Corcoran enters the race.

It’s not a given that Corcoran wins the A.G. race, by the way. Maybe Frank White drops out if Corcoran enters the race, maybe he doesn’t. Jay Fant certainly won’t step aside for Corcoran. But its Moody, a telegenic former circuit judge backed by Pam Bondi, who would be Corcoran’s toughest opponent. Meanwhile, Democrat Sean Shaw will be waiting for him in the general election.

So what’s Corcoran going to do … not run for Governor or Attorney General? Could his pride handle such stillness?

What if there was a third way for Richard Corcoran?

No it does not involve redecorating the Governor’s Mansion (although it would be fun to see Corcoran’s wife, Anne, bring their brood to Tallahassee). In fact, it doesn’t involve taking over any office space on the plaza level of the Capitol.

What Corcoran could do — should do if he truly wishes to secure his legacy — is call a press conference this week and announce …

… that he’s running a campaign this November, not for his own election, but to persuade voters to pass the constitutional amendments he most cares about. These include Amendment 1, an expansion of the homestead property-tax exemption, and Amendment 3, a requirement for two-thirds votes by future legislatures when raising taxes or fees. He could also campaign for Amendment 8, which would allow an alternative process for approving public schools, including charter schools, rather than by local school boards, and Amendment 12, which would impose a six-year lobbying ban on former state elected officials, state agencies heads and local elected officials.

(While he’s at it Corcoran could also push for Amendment 3, which would allow voters to decide on future expansions of casino gambling — something the Speaker did not allow to happen on his watch.)

Each of these are issues Corcoran has fought for and wants to see permanently enshrined. If they are approved by 60 percent of voters, they would do almost as much to change the course of state government as whatever any individual politician attempts to accomplish.

Corcoran could take the money he raised thinking it would get him at least four years as Florida governor and, instead, spend it on an effort that would secure his legacy for decades.

Instead of campaigning to be Florida’s Governor or Attorney General, he could fight for ‘Corcoran’s Constitution.’

Richard Corcoran once said, “If you are just going to capitulate to the special interests and the mainstream media and all the powers that be because you are afraid that somehow it is not worth the fight on something that you know fits that definition, there is nothing honorable about that.”

There is no dishonor, Mr. Speaker, in recognizing the futility of proceeding down one path when there is a fight worth taking on down another.

In other words, live to fight another day.

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