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Brad Drake’s most magnanimous act

By on February 13, 2012

As any aficionado of Florida politics can tell you, Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith publishes a weekly feature naming the political “Winner” and “Loser” of the week.

Last week’s “winner” was a pretty safe choice: Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who earned the nod for seeing her possible Republican opponent ‘suspend’ his campaign against her.

Like I said, a pretty safe choice.  However, there was a more deserving winner for last week.  Actually, this person deserves recognition for more than just a week or a month or any fixed period of time.  What this person did may become the stuff of legend, I kid you not.

In one of the first clear effects of the way legislative districts will be redrawn under the plans passed Thursday by the Senate, a Panhandle Republican lawmaker who finds himself living in the same district as a more senior GOP colleague said he’ll bow out of the Legislature for two years, hoping to return when the colleague leaves.

Rep. Brad Drake said he won’t run for House District 5 in 2012, but announced his candidacy for the seat in 2014. That will let Rep. Marti Coley who also lives in the district, run without facing another incumbent in a primary. Coley will be term-limited in two years.

“I am confident that Marti Coley can effectively represent our district; she currently represents part of Bay and Walton Counties and a majority of Jackson County,” Drake said. Coley said she was “honored” by Drake’s support.

But Drake’s act impacts more than him and Rep. Coley. It’s about more than Bay, Jackson and Walton Counties. Its about a sense of statesmanship rarely seen anymore in this state’s politics. As Speaker Designate Will Weatherford tweeted, it’s the “type of servant leadership I have not seen in a long time.”

To this point, the most the rest of state likely knew about Brad Drake, the favorite son of Eucheeanna, was his desire to bring back firing squads to handle capital punishments.

Maybe from now on, Brad Drake will be remembered for something different.  For putting his own interests aside, if only temporarily, so a more senior member of the Legislature could finish her time on her own terms, rather than be subjected to a primary.

The cynics will point out that Drake isn’t sacrificing much.  If anything, he gets a two-year reprieve from the Florida Legislature, which is not necessarily a bad idea.  He will rejoin the Florida House in 2014 like a returning hero. He is sacrificing now for many future gains.

But when’s the last term you heard the word “sacrifice” associated with a member of the Florida Legislature?

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

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