TALLAHASSEE — By 2007, Richard Corcoran was a well-paid and deeply entrenched Florida political operative tied to several House speakers and Gov. Jeb Bush.
But, ambitious and restless, he quit his job as chief of staff to House Speaker Marco Rubio to run for office himself.
“I’d get moments of frustration,” Corcoran said. “Someone finally told me, ‘You have to decide if you want to be the man behind the man or try to be the man.’ ”
These days, there’s no doubt that Corcoran has arrived at the apex of power in Florida’s Capitol.
The Land O’Lakes Republican’s official title is appropriations chair in the Florida House. But he’s become the chamber’s de facto leader, eclipsing House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, whose job he’ll assume in 2016.
Case in point: Corcoran holding court Thursday, moments before he and 85 other representatives approved a $76.2 billion budget that he put together as appropriations chair.
For nearly 15 minutes, Corcoran sounded like Robert De Niro as he explained that the House was flat-out rejecting the Senate’s $2 billion plan to expand Medicaid and provide health care for 800,000 uninsured Floridians.
“They want us to come dance?” Corcoran said. “We’re not dancing. We’re not dancing this session, we’re not dancing next session, we’re not dancing next summer. We’re not dancing.”