Speaker contest underway for 2022 House leadership

Republican speaker meeting

The last-ditch politicking has begun behind closed doors at an Orlando airport hotel.

Freshman state Reps. Byron Donalds of Naples, Erin Grall of Vero Beach, Jamie Grant of Tampa and Paul Renner of Palm Coast, and most of the other 23 Republicans in the class gathered Friday at the Orlando International Airport Hampton Inn & Suites, with a vote expected sometime after noon.

The meeting was closed to press and public. It appeared that more than 20 of the freshmen lawmakers were present when the doors were closed.

Outside the hotel protesters including gubernatorial candidate Bob White gathered to oppose the election of Grant, whom they say should be ineligible because he was originally elected in 2010.

“At this meeting to decide the speaker, there will be 26 freshmen lawmakers and one phony freshman who has already held office for seven years,” U.S. Term Limits Executive Director Nick Tomboulides, organizer of the protest, said in a written statement.

In an election coordinated by state Rep. Larry Metz and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, each of the candidates is being given 10 minutes for a speech, followed by questions and answers. Then a vote, possibly a series of votes, will be taken, as 14 votes will be needed to elect the leader of the class.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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