Political science professor Judithanne McLauchlan endured a rough-and-tumble campaign in her first bid for political office in 2014, but the Madeira Beach-based Democrat says her continued frustration with the Florida Legislature is prompting her to seriously consider a run for the Legislature in 2016.
The University of South Florida St. Petersburg teacher is looking to run for House District 69, occupied by Pasadena Republican Kathleen Peters. The district encompasses southern Pinellas County, stretching from Redington Shores to St. Pete Beach.
“I’m thinking about it,” McLauchlan told Florida Politics on Thursday. She said that although a “number of people” have approached her about running for the seat, her main consideration at the moment is getting through the spring semester and final exams, which take place next week.
McLauchlan’s career has been steeped in politics and public service. Before arriving to teach political science courses at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus in 2003, she worked for the Domestic Policy Council and First Lady’s Office in the White House under Bill Clinton beginning in 1995. She went on to join the Clinton/Gore re-election effort in 1996 and spent time in the administration during his second term, including a stint as director of the White House comment line at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998. She later worked on Al Gore‘s 2000 presidential contest.
She challenged Republican Jeff Brandes in the SD 22 contest last year in her first ever try at public office, but was soundly defeated, 57-43 percent, in a rough and at times intensely personal race. A bankruptcy that occurred back in the 1990s because of a health concern became cannon fodder in the campaign. It also brought up a controversial charge that she was part of a group that once supported a state income tax in Florida — a dangerous third rail in this state without such taxes. (The group in question was the League of Women Voters, and the ad was labeled as “mostly false” by PolitiFact).
“I’ve been incredibly frustrated and disappointed with the Legislature this session,” McLauchlan said, specifically expressing disgust with an abortion measure that would impose a 24-hour wait between a medical briefing and performance of the procedure. A guns on campus bill that now appears to be dead, also raised her ire.
The apparent failure in passing a budget by the end of session also disappoints McLauchlan, 46. “They’re all controlled by Republicans — the House, the Senate and the Governors mansion — and they can’t come together on a budget?”
A failure to expand Medicaid and a reluctance to fulfill the wishes of Amendment 1 supporters regarding land preservation also drive McLauchlan mad.
“It’s horrible. The issues that inspired me to run in 2014 are certainly still there,” she said. “We need change in Tallahassee, and that could not be more clear.”
Expect a decision from her before summer.