Eric Eisnaugle, a 36-year-old Republican from Arcadia isn't a member of the Legislature but he is already campaigning to be speaker of the the Florida House in 2020. Sound like a long time away? It is, but it's the latest dance in the term-limits foxtrot politicians in Florida engage in behind the scenes, with little public attention.
Eisnaugle, who stepped aside after serving two years when his district was conflated with Rep. Steve Precourt's under redistricting in 2012, isn't the only candidate for House Speaker 2020. Also on the list is Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, who was elected in a special election last year, Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Tampa lawyer and Republican who is trying to regain a seat he lost in 2012 to Rep. Mark Danish, a Democrat, and Chris Sprowls, another Tampa lawyer and Republican.
Fundraising for Eisnaugle is happening now. A flyer announcing a mega-fundraiser on Jan. 28 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando features Reps. Frank Artiles, Ritch Workman, David Santiago, Mike LaRosa and Jason Brodeur and is being promoted as "an event to support Eric Eisnaugle in his Speaker's race." If elected, Eishaugle, like Hill, will have an extra year of seniority over the other legislators elected in November who will also be termed out of office in 2022.
Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, is a leading Eisnaugle advocate. "He has the most experience. He has the advantage,'' he said.
Precourt resigned earlier this month to take a $175,000 + job at the Orlando-Orange County expressway and Eisnaugle is the leading candidate in a March 11 special election to replace him.
If elected, Eisnaugle would technically be a "red shirt" freshman, like Hill. Preceding him in the speaker office, if all goes as planned, would be Reps. Steve Crisfulli, Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva. Obviously, Hill is seen as competition for Eisnaugle, with his name also being mentioned as future House speaker material.