South Florida Legislators Take On New Leadership Positions In House Democratic Caucus

Dec 27, 2018

A few South Florida Democrats will have new leadership positions in the state Legislature when session starts in March.

Rep. Kionne McGhee, a Democrat from south Miami-Dade County and the incoming minority leader in the Florida House, created four new deputy positions. Three of them represent South Florida.

Each new deputy minority leader will oversee a group of House members; the Democratic caucus of 47 members is divided roughly along geographic lines. There are a total of 120 members in the House.

McGhee argued splitting the caucus into four groups would give individual members more attention from leadership — and more of a say for their constituents.

"It allows for other representatives to have an even larger voice, because now they have a designated deputy minority leader," McGhee said. "It allows for them to participate more in caucus decisions."

The new leaders include Rep. Barbara Watson from north Miami-Dade, and Reps. Shevrin Jones and Richard Stark, who each represent part of Broward County. The fourth is Rep. Margaret Good of Sarasota.

McGhee also created new positions to lead the caucus' strategies for crafting policy and debating.

He said he expects Miami-Dade to get extra attention next legislative session, because he’s the minority leader — and the new speaker, Republican José Oliva, represents Hialeah and Miami Lakes.

That's unusual. Legislative leaders are often from smaller counties, giving less populous regions of Florida more influence.