Tallahassee, FL - One of the Florida Senate’s more colorful characters will put a cap on a long career in the state Legislature Dec. 31, a spokesman for the chamber told the News Service of Florida Monday.
Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, who is replacing outgoing U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in Congress next year, officially notified outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist that New Year’s Eve would be her last day as a member of the 40-member Florida Senate.
Democrats are outnumbered in the Senate 28-12, counting Wilson. Her seat in a solidly Democratic district is widely expected to remain in the party’s hands.
“As the Congresswoman- Elect (Congressional District - 17), this letter serves as my official resignation as Florida State Senator of District 33 effective Friday, December 31, 2010,” Wilson wrote to Crist. “It has been a pleasure serving the constituents of my district and I look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of the great State of Florida.”
State law gives Crist a lot of leeway for setting a special election following Wilson’s official resignation, but it requires he provide at least 14 days between a primary and a general election. Because Crist will still be governor on Dec. 31 - for four more days anyway - he will likely set the schedule the special election for replacing Wilson, not Gov.-elect Rick Scott.
A spokesman for Crist told the News Service Monday the outgoing governor had received the letter from Wilson and would make an announcement about the election to replace Wilson “in the coming days.”
At least one current state representative, Rep. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, is thinking about running for the seat. Several members of the crowded field Wilson beat to win the Democratic nomination for Congressional District 17 are also expected to consider making a run.
A recently-changed Senate rule may trip up one of the final pieces of legislation Wilson filed.
Facing a deadline for filing claims bills in the Senate that came before her Aug. 24 Congressional primary, Wilson filed three claims bills seeking to compensate Floridians who were wronged by government agencies (SB 12, 60 and 62). The measures seek to pay Charles Pandrea $608,555 for the death of his wife Janet as a result of the negligence of the part of the North Broward Hospital District (SB 12); $6 million to Monica Cantillo Acosta and Luis Alberto Cantillo Acosta, surviving children of Nhora Acosta, for the death of their mother “due to injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of a Miami-Dade County bus driver” (SB 60); and $2.2 million to Rosa Figueroa, wife of Joel Figueroa, for the death of Joel “as a result of the negligence of the Homestead Housing Authority” (SB 62).
But last month senators changed the chamber's rules to ban outgoing members from filing legislation, though Wilson was said to not be the target of the change.
However, under the new rules, unless another senator agrees to take her place as the sponsor of Wilson’s claims bills within seven days of her resignation, the bills will be automatically withdrawn from consideration