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Fellow Democrats bristle at David Richardson's talk of primarying Gwen Margolis

Fueling controversy over turf and legacy in South Florida, North Miami Beach Democrat Rep. David Richardson has filed to run in 2016 for the District 35 Senate seat currently held by the Dean of the Florida Senate, Gwen Margolis.

Despite rumors that she may retire, former Senate President Margolis took to social media on Friday to clarify:

Dear Friends,

In response to rumors that I am retiring from the Florida Senate, I would like to clarify my situation. I plan to finish my current term which ends November 2016. I am not term-limited in 2016 and I intend to continue serving the wonderful citizens of Florida’s Senate District 35. However, after the 2016 Legislative Session I will, as I have done in every one of my 40 years serving our community, consider my options and whether to pursue another term. I will continue my service to the citizens of Miami, representing you in Tallahassee for the next two sessions and beyond.

But Richardson’s moves show little evidence of deference to Margolis’ decision either way. According to Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House may even seek to run a primary against his 80-year-old colleague, one which would certainly strain alliances and create some awkwardness.

“If there was a possibility of a primary, I would hope that Representative Richardson wouldn’t do that. I think I know him well enough to know he would think twice about going that route,” said Miami Gardens Sen. Oscar Braynon, who will lead Senate Democrat campaign efforts in the next election cycle. “As a member of my caucus and my neighbor and fellow senator, I support whatever her decision is going forward.”

According to Political Cortadito, Richardson called around the region before announcing his plans to run for the seat, clearing his plans with party leaders such as Dan Gelber, Annette Taddeo, and Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner. “I certainly wasn’t going to run against Dan Gelber. This is only my second term and I wanted to be respectful to people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have,” said Richardson.

Many speculate that Margolis and Richardson had come to an understanding about the future of the seat in 2013, but that, perhaps, their unwritten contract has been altered in recent days.

While Ladra appraises Richardson “too classy a guy” to run against Margolis, the recent ambiguity in her plans — as well as the injection into the race of Andrew Korge, dauphin to national Democratic mega-fundraiser Chris Korge — has many wondering whether Richardson has made up his mind to go for it come what may.

“I have way too much respect to run against her and disrespect her in that way,” said the younger Korge, who spoke to FloridaPolitics.com from Walt Disney World where his family was visiting for the day. “I’m a big fan of Senator Margolis, I’ve known her most of my life, and I would never, ever run against her.”

But he would certainly run against Richardson. Some around the state mention his possible state House ambitions, but Korge seems in no rush to move aside on Richardson’s behalf, particularly if the latter is willing to upset the balance by staying in the race before Margolis makes up her mind.

The ball, it seems, is in Richardson’s court.

Written By

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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