The Freshman Class
The Florida House gets 35 new members. All seven new senators served in the House. Here's a roundup.
Andy Gardiner (R)
District 9 — parts of Orange, Osceola and Seminole
Occupation: Director of community and business relations, Orlando Health
Family: Wife, Camille Gardiner; children, Andrew Jr. and Joanna Lynn
Replaces: Daniel Webster (R), who was term-limited out of office
Background: Gardiner cruised into office with a 58.4%-to-41.6% victory over Darius Davis (D), an Orlando math teacher and political novice. Gardiner is a fiscal and social conservative. He has said his No. 1 priority will be getting the Legislature to support a controversial Orlando commuter rail project that will involve spending about $650 million in state money to buy 61 miles of CSX tracks. The former House majority leader has also emphasized the need to reform Citizens Property Insurance to lower costs for consumers.
Dan Gelber (D)
District 35 — part of Broward and Miami-Dade
Occupation: Partner, Akerman Senterfitt law firm
Home: Miami Beach
Family: Wife, Joan Silverstein; children, Sophie, Hannah, Max
Replaces: Gwen Margolis (D), who retired to run for Miami-Dade County property appraiser
Background: Serving as House minority leader from 2006-08, Gelber became one of the most visible figures in the Florida Democratic Party. Gelber pledges to continue working on such issues as property tax and insurance relief, expanded healthcare coverage and reforming the FCAT. He supports bringing Florida teacher salaries to at least the national average. Other priorities include expanding Florida Kidcare, the state’s children’s health insurance program for uninsured children under age 19. Gelber is touted as a 2010 contender for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mel Martinez (R).