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Another Miamian is ascending to lead Florida House. Daniel Perez values family, hard work

Mary Ellen Klas and Ana Ceballos, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

Perez acknowledged his friendship with incoming Senate President Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, and talked about his growth as a legislator.

“I’m not the same man who walked through those chamber doors for the first time,’’ he said. “I know more about the things that I know but more importantly, I know more about what I don’t know.”

Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Plant City, Perez’s closest friend in the state House nominated Perez. As his Tallahassee roommate since they both were elected in special elections in 2017, McClure said Perez’s ”greatest quality is his competitive spirit and desire to be competitive.”

In the last four years, the Legislature earned a national reputation as a rubber stamp for DeSantis as he worked to push the already conservative Florida Legislature further to the right to demonstrate he could be a viable Republican alternative to former President Donald Trump for the presidency.

As DeSantis’ standing in national polls continues to sink farther behind Trump in the GOP presidential nomination race, the changing political dynamics could leave DeSantis as a lame duck governor and give Perez and Albritton leverage over the governor if they choose to use it.

“He has a real opportunity to govern, to lead the state,” said Carlos Trujillo, a former state legislator who has known Perez for 15 years and is the former law partner of Perez’s best friend, Andrew Vargas.


Trujillo said he expects Perez’s agenda will be less focused on ideological culture wars that have defined DeSantis’ tenure as governor and “more focused on how [government] affects your average Floridian.”

That includes tackling homeowner’s insurance, housing affordability, “the challenges of all the safety nets and the vulnerable populations that we have in our state,’’ said Trujillo, who served for four years in the Trump administration.

Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Miami Republican, said the political dynamics in the GOP presidential race could change how DeSantis handles the Legislature going forward.

“Before session ended, he [DeSantis] was clearly on a different trajectory, and that has changed,’’ she said. “So now, I think that it will probably change the way he may govern.”


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