“I couldn’t put this book down. It describes the ascension of the Republican Party from the minority to the majority, allowing individuals to evaluate how that occurred on the Florida landscape. Anyone who loves politics, history, or Florida should read this book.”—Sandra B. Mortham, former Florida secretary of state
“An indispensable guide to the modern political history of Florida. Informative, insightful, and incisive. Richly sourced by authors who were on the scene.”—Lester Abberger, chairman, LeRoy Collins Institute, Florida State University
Despite Florida’s current reputation as a swing state, there was a time when its Republicans were the underdogs against a Democratic powerhouse. The Modern Republican Party in Florida tells the story of how the Republican Party of Florida became the influential force it is today.
Republicans briefly came to power in Florida after the Civil War but were called “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags” by residents who resented pro-Union leadership. They were so unpopular that they didn’t earn official party status in the state until 1928. Peter Dunbar and Mike Haridopolos show how, due largely to a population boom in the state and a schism in the Democratic Party, Republicans slowly started to see their ranks swell.
This book chronicles the paths that led to a Republican majority in both the state Senate and House in the second half of the twentieth century and highlights successful campaigns of Florida Republicans for national positions. It explores the platforms and impact of Republican governors from Claude Kirk to Ron DeSantis. It also looks at how a robust two-party system opened up political opportunities for women and minorities and how Republicans affected pressing issues such as public education, environmental preservation, and criminal justice.
As the Sunshine State enters its third decade under GOP control and partisan tensions continue to mount across the country, this book provides a timely history of the modern political era in Florida and a careful analysis of challenges the Republican Party faces in a state situated at the epicenter of the nation’s politics.
Peter Dunbar, managing attorney at the Tallahassee office of the Dean Mead law firm, is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is the editor of Before They Were the Black Sheep: Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-214 and the Battle for the Solomon Islands. Mike Haridopolos, founder and owner of MJH Consulting, is former president of the Florida Senate and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of Florida Legislative History and Processes and coauthor of 10 Big Issues Facing Our Generation, and serves as a political analyst for Fox 35 News in Orlando.