Incoming Speaker of the Florida House Steve Crisafulli made an announcement today that could mean that former — yes, former, at least for the time being — state Rep. James Grant could serve in the House until 2024.
Here’s how we got here, according to the Tampa Tribune‘s James Rosica:
In June, Tampa attorney Michael Steinberg filed suit over District 64 write-in candidate Daniel Matthews.
Steinberg, who is married to Grant’s GOP challenger Miriam Steinberg, said Matthews should be disqualified because Matthews didn’t live in the district when he filed to run.
Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey of Tallahassee agreed and disqualified him.
Matthews appealed, and a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with him.
The panel found the applicable qualification law to be in conflict with the state Constitution, holding that a candidate only has to live in the district when elected.
Steinberg then asked for the full 15-judge appellate court to reconsider that decision. His request was denied, and he appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Its website shows that an “acknowledgement letter (of) new case” was sent out Thursday.
Meantime, the ongoing litigation invalidated both the August primary and November general elections for the seat.
Nonbinding results from the Nov. 4 election show Grant winning 59.5 percent-40.5 percent over Steinberg. No Democrats or other-party contenders were in the running.
On Monday, Crisafulli announced that the House will be given a choice to reject the election results for HD 64. That’s because the House reserves to itself the “right to be the sole judge of the qualifications, elections and returns of its members,” according to its rules.
“If a majority of the membership votes in favor of the motion,” reads a release from Crisafulli’s office, “there will be a vacancy on Tuesday and I will request Governor Scott to call a Special Election to fill the vacancy, as required by law.”
Grant’s former colleagues will almost certainly reject the election results so as to expedite the process of seating a representative from House District 64. There’s little doubt that Grant will win a special election.
That’s when things get really interesting.
Seeing as how House District 64 will be declared vacant, that should mean that the term-limit clock on Grant is restarted at eight years.
Actually, it’s more like nine-plus years, because if Grant wins a special election, he’ll technically be a so-called redshirt freshman and the term-limit clock won’t start until 2016.
That means Grant could serve in the Florida House until 2024!
While we are playing Fantasy House of Representatives, allow me to throw it out there and suggest that if all of the preceding were to occur, how is Grant not a frontrunner to one day be Speaker? He’ll be, by far, the most experienced, most politically savvy member of the 2016 class of incoming freshman Republicans.
Of course, the one House member least likely to have ambitions to be Speaker of the House is Jamie Grant, who is more than comfortable in the role of ”Friend of the Speaker” — a role he will enjoy when Richard Corcoran ascends to the rostrum. Nor can many of his close friends envision Grant sticking around in the Florida House until 2024. Grant has quite an entrepreneurial streak and he may not want to put that on hold much longer.
But this is a herd of horses before a parade of carts. The House still has to vote. And Grant would still have to win a special election and then several elections after that.
But were all that to occur, Grant would be able to do something no one else has done in this era of term limits: serve for 14 years, give or take a few months.