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Thurston predicts win in House Democrat leader race

The vote takes place next Tuesday on the opening day of the 2011 legislative session. But Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, is boldly predicting he'll be elected the next leader of the House Democratic caucus in a race with a fellow Broward Democrat, Rep. Joe Gibbons of Hallandale Beach. 

"It's going extremely well," Thurston says. "We're well over the number that we need -- at least 25." (The House Democrats currently number 38, so it takes 20 votes to win).

Gibbons wasn't so bold to predict victory. He acknowledges that Thurston had a head start on him (Thurston came within two votes of defeating Rep. Ron Saunders of Key West in the last leadership race two years ago. 

"Some people had committed to Perry early," Gibbons says. "I'm telling them, 'Hey, man, it's a secret ballot.'"

Whoever wins will have his work cut out for him. The task of raising money and recruiting candidates is sure to be complicated by the fact that the 2012 elections are following reapportionment, meaning all of the districts will be different, yet the recruiting will have to begin before the final district lines are decided.  

-- Steve Bousquet