From speaker to lobbyist — how appropriate

So House Speaker Dean Cannon wants to be a lobbyist.

Like many before him, the former Winter Park resident is making the transition from "public servant" to influence-peddler, hoping to cash in on his tenure.

That seems about right.

After all, lobbyists have been some of Cannon's biggest fans.

Lobbyists were the ones chanting "Dean! Dean! Dean!" when he finished presiding over his final session.

Not regular old citizens. In fact, during Cannon's term, citizens were often the obstacles.

That was most evident during Cannon's costly crusade against Fair Districts.

Citizens wanted lawmakers to stop gerrymandering districts and play fair, but Cannon would have none of it.

First, he tried to squash the citizens' amendment … and failed.

Then, after citizens overwhelmingly voted for Fair Districts, Cannon took the public's money and paid lawyers $300 an hour to try to overturn that vote … and failed again.

Failure is a significant part of Cannon's legacy.

Time and again, he launched truly radical initiatives — and fell flat.

There was the time he tried to lift a generations-old ban on oil drilling off Florida's beaches — and was stopped by more contemplative GOP peers in the Senate.

And there was his radical attack on the court system. Cannon wanted to upend 150 years of precedent — and a system of checks and balances — by tearing apart the Florida Supreme Court. The GOP-run Senate shot that down as well.

Obviously, not everyone thinks Cannon's tenure was a mess.

Cannon, for instance, disagrees.

During a conversation Tuesday, the former speaker said he presided with a "steady hand" during "turbulent times."

He said his goal was to leave the state in good financial shape, poised for a recovery — and that he made significant strides in reforming the state's Medicaid system.

I'll even go further in saying that Cannon did some laudable heavy lifting on behalf of Central Florida early in his legislative tenure on behalf of rail, Medical City and economic development.

In fact, when he was first designated speaker — way back in 2005 for his 2011-12 tenure — I was among those wide-eyed and optimistic about a local guy with a clean-cut image taking a seat of power.

 

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