Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

King Has No Plans to Retire This Year; Senator Quashes Rumors He'll Step Down Early and Says He May Run for Re-Election in 2006

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

King Has No Plans to Retire This Year; Senator Quashes Rumors He'll Step Down Early and Says He May Run for Re-Election in 2006

Article excerpt

Byline: J. TAYLOR RUSHING, Capital Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE -- Senate President Jim King on Wednesday denied rumors that he will resign his seat after this year's legislative session and said he may in fact run for re-election to represent Jacksonville.

King, who will be 67 when his current term ends in 2006, said he wanted to end rumors that he will retire after his presidency and leave the rest of his term unfulfilled.

"Not only is there no truth to it, but I'm actually weighing running again for four more years," King said. "I've heard the rumor, but I think the people who want my seat are the ones making that suggestion."

King was elected to the Florida House in 1986, to the Senate in 1999 and as president by fellow senators in 2002. His presidency officially ends in November, but his four-year term as a senator does not expire until 2006, and term limits would not bar him from seeking re-election until 2010.

The Jacksonville Republican had consistently said he was looking forward to retiring at the end of his current Senate term, but several legislators have suggested privately in recent weeks that he would step down even earlier. King said Wednesday he based possibly postponing retirement on conversations in recent days with Sens. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, and Alex Diaz De La Portilla, R-Miami.

Pruitt and Diaz De La Portilla, both potential future Senate presidents, said Wednesday they urged King to stay because they will need his leadership and expertise.

"The Florida Senate will lose a lot when it loses Jim King," said Diaz De La Portilla. "It is hard to go back to being a member after you've been president. But this is a profession where once you're hooked, you're hooked."

King's first year in the Senate presidency was consumed by grief over medical malpractice lawsuit limits, leading many to believe he would seek the first opportunity to leave Tallahassee. This year's session has been far smoother, with momentous policy decisions but much less rancor, and some suggest that has made the difference. …

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