Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Area Legislator Wins Vote for Speaker; Northeast Florida's Renner Would Claim Leadership Position in 2022

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Area Legislator Wins Vote for Speaker; Northeast Florida's Renner Would Claim Leadership Position in 2022

Article excerpt

Byline: Tia Mitchell

ORLANDO | Rep. Paul Renner is in line to become speaker of the Florida House in 2022, making him the first legislator from Northeast Florida to be chosen for the leadership position in more than two decades.

Renner, 50, was designated speaker by his freshman Republican colleagues Friday during an election held at a hotel near the Orlando airport. Renner was elected after a single round of secret balloting during a closed-door meeting. He and three other candidates gave speeches and answered questions before the vote.

Renner, of Palm Coast, never publicly confirmed he was seeking the speaker position, but he has worked for several months to build support among colleagues. During the 2017 session, he carried high-profile legislation that limited the use of economic incentives in Florida.

"You should always be the leader you want to be or want to support," he said after Friday's vote. "I think for me it was just about helping my colleagues and doing what I can to do to make them successful."

Renner's campaign was also boosted by robust fundraising through his Florida Foundation for Liberty political committee, which has raised nearly $1 million since 2014 and $261,500 in the month of May alone. May donors comprise a who's who of Jacksonville-area businesses and political leaders that rallied behind the prospect of a future speaker hailing from the region.

Former Ambassador John Rood, Preston Haskell and John Baker are among those who gave to Renner's committee, as well as companies such as Gate Petroleum and Miller Electric.

Renner works in Jacksonville as an attorney and is a Navy veteran. He was elected to the House in a 2015 special election but is considered a freshman because his first full term began in 2016. Renner first ran for the House in 2014 but narrowly lost in the primary to Rep. …

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