Haridopolos planning for a conservative 'New Senate'

The next Florida Senate President says he plans to shift Florida to the right. Here's an excerpt from an article in the Orlando Sentinel that is worth reading:

Haridopolos is slated to be officially designated as the 2010-12 Senate president this Tuesday in Tallahassee, but he is already the face of what he calls the "New Senate" — a chamber shifting toward the right thanks in part to term limits.

He envisions taking on issues such as revamping the state's $18 billion Medicaid program; allowing near-shore oil drilling; and putting hard limits on state and local government spending.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really engage and take some tough issues on," he says.

In the meantime. Haridopolos is working to finish his Ph.D. dissertation, tentatively titled "The Rise of the Republican Party of Florida." He says he has interviewed 100 lobbyists, former lawmakers and reporters on the topic of the Florida GOP's 1990s takeover of the Legislature and governor's office.

And he's determined to write another chapter with his presidency.

"I love politics. There's no better sport in America," he says. "This is what it's all about. A year ago everyone thought the conservative movement was dead, and now it's reborn."

Haridopolos hasn't stopped promoting himself since he was elected to the House in 2000 at age 30.

Though he's never had a serious Democratic opponent, he runs a virtually continuous campaign, with TV advertisements and e-mail blast lists for of everyone from schoolteachers to GOP club members — a tactic he says he learned from Bill Clinton.

Initially, veteran lawmakers derided him for his big hair and eager-to-please partisan edge – and cast him as an opportunist when he walked into an open state Senate seat with the death of Brevard Sen. Howard Futch in 2003.


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