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Big Jumps For Leon Lawmakers In AFP Legislative Grades

Nick Evans

The conservative group Americans For Prosperity has released scorecards for all 160 members of the Florida Legislature. 

Budget hawks like Americans for prosperity have a lot of sway in Florida’s GOP dominated legislature.  The Koch-backed organization prizes a brand of economic conservatism that sits well with Republican lawmakers who have a bit of a libertarian streak.  State director Chris Hudson wasn’t surprised by the grades given to Leon County lawmakers.

“I think by and large what we saw is those folks stuck to their political philosophy and their guns on the issues that mattered the most to them,” Hudson says.

“By and large their philosophy doesn’t reflect some of the policy positions that we take,” he says in counterpoint, “but I will say this if nothing else the Leon county folks seem to pretty consistent year to year in our scorecard.”

But that’s not exactly true.  In the House, Reps. Alan Williams and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda—both Democrats—earned an F in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  Williams got the same grade again this year, but Rehwinkel Vasilinda jumped to a C ahead of a potential congressional bid in right-leaning District two. 

In the Senate, Democrat Bill Montford made an even bigger jump—going from an F in 2014 and 2015 to a B in 2016.  But in a year when every seat in the Legislature is up for grabs perhaps that’s a bit less surprising. 

Hudson says the grades overall are a bit better this year than the last.

“So 36 A+s and four of them came out of the Senate which is a double increase from last year,” he says.  “There were a number of As.  I believe in total there were only 22 Fs on this scorecard.”

Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, got Americans for Prosperity’s highest score for his chamber, and Manny Diaz a Republican from Miami earned the top grade among Representatives.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.