Flashback: When Broward Ruled Tallahassee




There was a time when Broward County ruled Tallahassee.

From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Democrats controlled everything in the state Capital.  That put Democratic-heavy Broward in the driver’s seat. No county had a more powerful House delegation than Broward.

These House members could get things done. They could get bills passed. And money into flowed into Broward:

The airport, the Interstate, Tri Rail, a downtown college campus, parks, libraries and schools.

The old timey legislators were doer, not whiners.

Sadly, the numbers have changed.  Today, all that the Broward Democrats can do is follow.  They can’t lead.  That ended in 1996 when Republicans took control of the House.

My pals, Sun-Sentinel writers Linda Kleindienst and Diane Hirth, summed up the disaster that the 1996 election was for Broward:

“Broward County loses the most political punch in the new Legislature. Of the delegation’s 18 members, 16 are Democrats. Most of the 11 Broward Democrats in the House have held leadership positions for a decade or more.

‘We’re screwed,’ said Rep. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale, who is expected to lose his chairmanship of the Regulated Industries Committee.” 

Broward has never recovered.

I bring this up because I’m part of a forum on the 2014 legislative session at the Tower Club in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.  The details are here. 

I was thinking of similar forums I did years ago on the Legislature.  There were major achievements to trumpet then.

This sums up the session for us in Broward this year:

The local delegation did get more money this session,  mainly because there was more money from the economic recovery to spread around.

But with few exception  — State Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, is one with the medical marijuana bill. State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, who sponsored the overhaul of the child welfare system, was another . —  the Broward delegation had little impact on major issues.

Below is a picture from happier days.  This picture of six members of the Broward Legislative Delegation is from 1985.

Today if six members of the Broward delegation were talking on the floor, they were probably discussing where to go for lunch.  Back then, they were setting policy:


Six Democrats from the powerful 1980s Broward delegation: (From left) State Reps. Walt Young, Anne MacKenzie, Tom Armstrong, Joe Titone (half hidden), Irma Rochlin and Jack Tobin. 


When Broward Counted in Legislature--mid 1980s

12 Responses to “Flashback: When Broward Ruled Tallahassee”

  1. Alice McGill says:

    Maybe the idea of seceding from North Florida is not so ridiculous. The tri county area, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, sends millions of dollars to Tallahassee. Not so much comes back.
    The hardest part to organize would be leadership. Way too many of South Florida’s mayors, commissioners, and judges work outside of ethical behavior.

  2. signs of the times says:

    This blog needa a rivalry like the wallman_norman’s vs stone and chaz. Maybe you and Degroot can mix it up.or Anthony Man. Lol. Seriously great post on better days where matters resolved in clydes or the silver slipper and not on blogs and facebook.

  3. Old timer says:

    Those were the days my friend, they thought they would never end!

    That said, those folks knew how to work the system, and Tom Gustafson, as Speaker, did a lot for Broward.

  4. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Devolution’s a witch.

  5. Fed Up with Broward Corruption says:

    The corruption finally caught up with Broward. Maybe people are fed up with the BS “Democratic”, translation – Progressive, agenda.
    No I don’t think the R’s are any better. I think most politicians have lost their “public service” direction and are now in it for profit. Ethics are gone in politics…just look at the fight over ethics reform in Broward. Gimme, gimme, gimme….

  6. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Does anyone realize in most significant counties, let alone a “powerhouse”, people active in the 1980s would not be UNKNOWN, FORGOTTEN 34 years later? I mean if you were 40 in 1980 you would be 74 now, not an “extreme old age”, and if you were 40 in 1990, you would be only 64 now. Where are these “powerful leaders” now? The quality of leadership in Broward County has always been a joke to those south, west, and north of us!

  7. Truth Still Matters says:

    You folks need to lighten up. Seriously.

  8. Sam The Sham says:

    So this is basically what Buddy is saying:

    The Broward delegation refuses to change with the rest of the state and work with the administration.

    Now you know how an east side Republican feels when trying to get something done at the County level.

    Now you know how a conservative feels when trying to accomplish something at the national level.

  9. Ana Gomez-Mallada says:

    Here is a nostalgic vignette from 1977. That’s when Florida Legislature passed a law, sponsored by Democrat State Senator Curtis Peterson of Lakeland specifically prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children. It was signed into law by Governor Rubin Askew. Yes, things HAVE changed. And for the better, since that ban ceased in 2010.

  10. tell the truth says:

    Tallahassee would love to let Dade, Broward and Palm Beach secede from the state. We are over rated.
    The insurance is higher here for property and vehicles. The electeds are less than honest. Too many lawyers out for their own gain if on commissions.

    Maybe we did so much better in the years you cite Buddy because the leaders were not THIEVES. Maybe a little of the wealth was spread around.

    What I want to know is out of 67 counties, and eliminate these 3, which county in FL has their act together? Smart growth, quality of life, no theft of honest services from electeds, long term fiscal pridence, etc., etc.

    I’ll move there because there is no fixing this, and we know there is no fixing stupid.

  11. Stupid says:

    Thanks Ana, I am sure the republicans at the time were outraged by the passage of this bill. Same republicans who loved and supported Anita Bryant.

  12. John Henry says:

    LOL. You act like the money gravy train has gone off the tracks in Broward. Its alive and well to the contrary.

    The last time I checked this county is STILL pissing hundreds of millions away on unnecessary projects like: courthouses, runways, light rail trolleys, port expansions, etc etc