When Mike Haridopolos was elected Senate president, he vowed to make the traditionally moderate chamber more conservative — in his own image.
But the University of Florida history instructor miscalculated one thing: The Senate by its very nature moderate. Haridopolos and Senate leaders attempted to push several controversial conservative issues in the past year only to have the Senate hit the ideological reset button and vote them down.
It happened two weeks ago with the vote to privatize 30 South Florida prison facilities. It happened last year with the tea party-driven proposal to require all employers to use E-Verify to check immigration status, with the proposal to ban state worker unions from collecting dues, with a House measure to split the state Supreme Court in two, and with dozens of bills that appeared as part of the budget on the last night of session.
Haridopolos and his leadership team wanted them; the chamber, dominated 28-12 by Republicans, still said no.
“The Senate’s independent streak is what distinguishes it from
the House,’’ said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston.
“It’s always there under the surface. You never know when it’s
going to emerge.”
The conflict played out again last week, when Haridopolos’ top deputies attempted to orchestrate a
coup to designate the Senate president for 2014 and 2016. Story here.
Photos by Matt Riva.