From local news to state news and even federal news, Tallahassee features the best political stories since 2022.
Florida's red tide year has been a big one for Tallahassee, with political tussles between the city's rural suburbs and downtown. Political battles in Tallahassee have been fought in the Legislature, at the polls and in the courts.
While Tallahassee is full of stories of crime, mold and radon on the campus of Florida State University, and even the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell in the city's federal prison , this Top 10 focuses on stories of capital city politics.
10. Ryan Ray was elected president of the Leon Dems
Ryan Ray , an assistant to Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Metlow , has been named chairman of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee, stepping into the role at a time of party uncertainty.
Ray, a progressive who previously worked as a reporter for Florida Politics and other publications, will serve a two-year term and play a key role in preparing the challenge against U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn and state Sen. Corey Simon . Two Republicans unseated Democrats Al Lawson and Loranne Ausley .
Ray's victory was also a victory for Tallahassee's progressive wing, as some view the 2022 election as a rebuke to liberal politics.
9. The forces of the 2nd district are heading towards the city
Leon County Commissioner Christian Caban defeated Hannah Crow in a special election for the Leon County 2nd District Commission, making Caban the first District 2 commissioner not from Fort Braden in decades.
Caban and Crow entered a tough race after the death of Commissioner Jimbo Jackson in May from long-term complications related to COVID. After Crowe, a Fort Braden resident, emerged as the front-runner in the primary, Caban, a Tallahassee-based businessman, won 54 percent of the vote in the general election.
The battle for the 2nd district has become very politicized. Crowe's social media history comes to light, exposing the Republican Party's practice of spreading disinformation, including disinformation about COVID-19. Meanwhile, he accused Caba of switching party affiliation from Republican to Democrat to run in Blue County.
Caban, a contractor who is now part of the team renovating the Governor's hotel, must connect with a community long accustomed to instant committee representation.
8. Alleged Discrimination by FAMU
Students at Florida A&M University (FAMU) have filed a class -action lawsuit, alleging a "pattern" of racial discrimination that has historically hurt black schools more than white schools, with resources, funding and more.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six Tallahassee undergraduate and graduate students, alleges the state defrauded FAMU of more than $1.3 billion over 33 years since 1987. They argue that the public university system maintains a racially segregated structure of higher education with historically disadvantaged colleges. and universities.black university (HBCU).
The lawsuit follows a $577 million settlement paid last year in a 15-year-old federal lawsuit that accused Maryland of unfairly giving resources to four HBCUs.
7. John Dailey survived the race
Mayor John Dailey was re-elected in November after a bitter battle with County Commissioner Leon Christine Dozier .
Dailey was re-elected 53-47% and was elected to a second term as capital. His re-election was never assured, however, as Dozier mounted a challenge that garnered serious support from the left.
County Commissioner Dozier has focused much of his three-term campaign on Dailey's support for a $27 million spending act to renovate Florida State University's Doak Campbell Stadium. Meanwhile, Dailey accused Dozier of coordinating with "dark money" groups during the campaign.
Endorsements are another battleground during a campaign. Manny Díaz , chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, drew special criticism for supporting Dailey in a non-partisan race. After this transition, the Leon County Democratic Party supported Dozier . Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor also endorsed Dailey, as the pair share the support of key members of Tallahassee's black community.
Dailey became the first Tallahassee mayor since 1997, when Tallahassee began directly electing mayors, to secure a majority in the primary election and not win re-election outright. In addition, Dozier was the top vote-getter in the primary, becoming the first challenger to receive more votes than the incumbent mayor of Tallahassee in a direct election cycle.
6. Hit the street
Tallahassee got off to an explosive start to 2022 with the death of a state official in a traffic accident.
Florida Politics reports that John Kuczwanski , director of legislative affairs for the state board of directors, was killed in a shooting that began Jan. 6 after he crashed his Toyota Prius. The Leon County Sheriff's Office arrested one person in the shooting, but that person was later released without charges.
The crash began when Kuczwanski's BMW left the road while traveling northbound on Thomasville Road, sources said. Just then, his BMW crashes into the Prius. After both vehicles stopped in the parking lot, the driver of the Prius faced Kuczwanski from the impact. The driver of the Prius then returned to his vehicle to await the arrival of law enforcement after confronting Kuczwanski. That's when Kuczwanski rammed the BMW into the driver's door of the Prius and began pushing the car sideways into the parking lot.
Kuczwanski then opened fire on the white Prius with a rifle. The driver of the Prius pulled out a handgun and fired into the windshield of Kuczwanski's BMW. According to sources, Kuczwanski was shot dead.
The road rage incident was Kuczwanski's second at the same intersection.
5. Ramon Alexander hypothesis
Reputation. Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee may now be the leader of the House Democrats. But three MPs left public life after being accused of sexual harassment.
Alexander was accused of sex and groping by a former Florida A&M University athletic employee who left the school in January after what the Tallahassee Democrat said was a "horrendous" personnel shakeup. Although Alexander, a 38-year-old husband and father of two children, said it was consensual and his family was working on it, prosecutor Michael Johnson Jr. complained in February. Florida Politics reported on the complaint in May, and three days later Alexander announced he was running for a fourth term .
In recent years, Democratic legislative leadership has been a revolving door in both chambers, with leaders running for higher office or being forced out. In Alexander's case, House Democrats nominated him as the next leader after Rep. Ben Diamond , the incumbent for the 2022-2024 term, has announced a congressional campaign. Less than a year later, Alexander was accused of inappropriate behavior and replaced by incumbent Democratic leader Fentrice Driskell .
Alexander's fall also opened a new seat, filled by Gallop's representative, Franklin II . Tallahassee Democrats won after a landslide and a five-way general election.
4. Death of Jimbo Jackson
As mentioned earlier in this list, Commissioner Jackson's death shocked the community of Fort Braden and Leon County.
Jackson died at the age of 55 from lingering effects of the COVID-19 infection. He has worked in the school system for 30 years – the last 14 as principal at Fort Braden School – and served on the County Commission for nearly six years.
Jackson contracted COVID-19 in July 2020 in its first wave locally and without a vaccine available. His wife, two stepdaughters and disabled brother were also injured.
The director and commissioner was never hospitalized, but long-term fibrosis left him with a chronic cough and low oxygen levels. He could no longer run after the initial infection, but continued to work until four days before his death.
3. Limit the calculation
Despite a decade of growth along Tallahassee's I-4 corridor, this year's battle over Florida's congressional map is centered on North Florida and Tallahassee.
North Florida is home to a minority access district that stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, according to a 2015 court-ordered map. Despite plans by the Florida Senate to retain a similar district, Governor Ron DeSantis declared the district unconstitutional, forcing the legislature to repeal the district.
The new map, pending judicial review, brings together incumbents Lawson and Dunn in the new 2nd Congressional District. Dunn defeated Lawson 60-40 in the new district, favoring the Republicans.
Lawson argued the constitutionality of the Florida map. He helped push for a minority access zone in Florida. In addition, he considered DeSantis' opposition to the district a personal affront.
While campaigning in Gadsden County, Florida's only African-American county, Lawson told members of the Havana community that DeSantis "has a problem with black people." Congressmen believe DeSantis pushed the Legislature to rework congressional map plans.
"He wanted to change that because he didn't want African-Americans to represent this area of slave owners, sharecroppers from Jackson County to Duval County," Lawson said. "They lived in that area and were not represented until I got there."
2. Corey Simon defeated Laurent Auslin
As Republicans completed their red sweep of Florida on election night, Simon Ausley was ousted from his North Florida seat.
The Senate Republican welcomed Simon, a former Florida State University and pro football star, as the Senate's first black Republican since Reconstruction. He would also be the first Republican to represent Tallahassee in the Florida Senate in decades, possibly since Reconstruction.
With Simon's 53%-47% victory, Republicans control 28 seats in the Senate, 1 more than the overall majority.
The Republican and Democratic forces of the Senate caucus campaign targeted the 3rd Senate District as a key seat. The Florida Republican Senator's Campaign Committee spent heavily in the area, as did the Democratic Senate Victory Campaign, which partially sponsored the first bus tour to get Osley to the finish line. The Democrats' Hail Mary is a bit late.
Rumors of Ausley's vulnerability began in 2020. And this year some people, like Democratic consultant Matt Isbell of Tallahassee, predicted that Simon Ausley would be unseated.
The controversy overshadowed much of the race. Republicans have repeatedly attacked Democrats over what they say are racist tweets. Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to draw attention to Simon's stance on the 2020 election, refusing to label President Joe Biden as the "elect."
Although Simon is new to politics, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo selected her to chair the Senate PreK-12 Education Committee, giving her a key role in shaping Senate policy for the next two years.
1. Indictment of Andrew Gillum
No Tallahassee political meeting will be complete in 2022 without mentioning the arrest of former Mayor Andrew Gillum .
2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and longtime campaign partner Sharon Lettman-Hicks was indicted in June on wire fraud and other charges. Federal prosecutors accused the couple of diverting campaign donations to personal projects.
Many of the charges stem from incidents that occurred during Gillum's tenure as mayor of Tallahassee. Another continued his gubernatorial campaign.
Gillum pleaded not guilty to the charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Gillum also faces up to five years in prison for making false statements to FBI agents.
In recent Gillum news, a federal judge declined to dismiss the charges, rejecting his claim that he was the victim of selective harassment as a black gubernatorial candidate.
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