« "Clarity?" Incoming FL House Dem leader Darryl Rouson bends truth about secret committee | Main | House Democrats say finance director fired by Tant may deserve a 2nd chance »

Rouson voted out as House Democratic Leader

House Democrats voted 24-17 to oust Rep. Darryl Rouson as incoming House Minority Leader after a three-hour Monday night meeting.

“I’m a little disappointed but undaunted,” Rouson said after the meeting, saying he supported the party’s decision.

Current House Minority Leader Perry Thurston of Plantation said Democrats would vote on a new leader Wednesday night.

At least one candidate to replace Rouson, Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach, confirmed he was going to run.

"There may be squabbles, we're under the limelight," Pafford said afterward to reporters. "But I think we're all on the same page."

Perhaps. But Rouson's supporters left the meeting frustrated by the outcome. As he left, Rouson said he was undecided if he was going to make another run at the post. He said he may file to run again.

Rouson, 59, had struggled to hold onto his post as designated Democratic House leader, where he would oversee the 2014 House Democratic candidates before taking over after next year’s election.  In February, he defeated Rep. Mia Jones of Jacksonville, 23-21, after a second round of balloting when Democrats deadlocked on a 22-22 vote. Although he beat Jones, Rouson had said before that he had a 29-15 lead over her.

“I’m a little disappointed that seven Democrats may have done something differently, secretly,” he said after the initial vote.

That mistrust would prove mutual and haunted Rouson’s brief reign as leader. A trial lawyer with a compelling life story as a recovered crack addict, Rouson is a former Republican who was close to two former governors: Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. One of his chief selling points to Democrats was that he had ties to Crist, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. Yet Rouson was continually vexed by questions about his loyalties.

During a June caucus meeting, he fended off criticism aimed at his consultant, Barry Edwards, who has worked with Republicans, and a charge that he had not done more to work with key Democratic constituencies like the Florida Education Association.

Rouson’s coalition of younger lawmakers that he campaigned for in 2012 and moderate pro-business Democrats withstood the challenges. But his hold on power slipped away after party leaders discovered he had created a fundraising committee that only he could control -- without telling them. Party Chair Allison Tant fired two staffers, and Thurston called a meeting to discuss Rouson’s future.

Heading into Monday’s meeting, Democrats said they were fed up with internal squabbling.

But hopes that Rouson would step aside were dashed when he said he would try to hang on as leader.

Although he did say that, in hindsight, he should have provided “more clarity” and told others about the committee he was forming, Rouson showed no signs of backing down and blamed party leaders for the situation. He said he was aggressively raising money via the committee because he wasn’t confident in Tant’s leadership.

“Why would you put your money in a failing bank?” Rouson said.

Even before Rouson was forced out, replacements for him had been discussed, including Janet Cruz of Tampa, Jones of Jacksonville, Pafford of West Palm Beach and Alan Williams of Tallahassee.

Reporters were not allowed in the three-hour meeting, but House Democratic spokesman Mark Hollis provided updates. After an introduction by Thurston, Rouson spoke for 20 minutes and then answered questions for another 25 minutes from about seven or eight members. After eating Papa John’s pizza, they reconvened and allowed 2 ½ minutes for each member to speak. Of the 44- member Democratic caucus, three were absent: Betty Reed of Tampa, Kionne McGhee of Miami and Kevin Rader of Delray Beach, a key Rouson supporter who had a family emergency.

The ouster was led by freshman lawmakers, many of whom were involved in tight reelection fights. Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach, made the motion to "vacate" the position of incoming Democratic leader. Ricardo Rangel of Orlando seconded the motion.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


It was only a matter of time til Rouson imploded. It just happened quicker than most predicted. A bunch of freshman got conned into supporting him by a few vets who only cared what was in it for them.
Rouson was always about Rouson. The dude had one redeeming value, the ability to raise money, that was based on all his other faults, such as his willingness to sell his vote to please donors.
Good riddance.

Here we go again

The top 3 salaries at the Florida Democratic Party exceed $500K, and they can't raise the money for their own overhead. The FDP needs the 15% they take from Senate and House Victory just to keep the lights on ... and to pay their huge salaries.
Rouson was right to go outside the FDP. Senate and House Victory did the same thing when Scott Maddox was chair and the party was on a downward spiral. (Remember the IRS lien against the FDP?) It wasn't until Karen Thurman became chair that the caucuses returned their money to the FDP.


Here’s why it is really awkward that @darrylrouson has been forced out as House Democratic leader.



This is the kind of stupid squabbling over power between elected Democrats and mere party officials that will continue to keep the Democrats weak for several election cycles. Either the party bosses will dictate to people who actually get elected as Democrats or they will serve them. Until the party bosses get their minds right, they will continue to preside over their own private, minority-party, purity parade.


Elect Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach as House Minority Leader! He will make sure Florida Democratic Party leaders are invited to run around in their panties and undies at the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade!

Isn't more gaiety what the party needs to maintain its complete irrelevance in Tallahassee? Has anyone stopped to think of all the great electoral victories the Florida Education Association (FEA) and the Democratic GLBT Caucus have gotten the Florida Democratic Party? Why take the party away from them? Who can argue with their success?

Certainly the Republicans are very, very appreciative of everything FEA/GLBT Democrats do to keep Republicans in power in Tallahassee!!! How Gay it is! ... For Republicans that is...

Politics you say?

Top 3 salaries at the RPOF are probably triple that amount. Get with it " here we go again".

The comments to this entry are closed.