Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Re-Elected Buchanan Aims to Raise His Political Profile

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Re-Elected Buchanan Aims to Raise His Political Profile

Article excerpt

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is headed back to Congress for a fourth term and what shapes up as his best chance to be a national player, without clouds of controversy hanging over him.

"I am honored by your trust in me," Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, said at a victory party at the Sarasota Hyatt on Tuesday night.

Buchanan, who campaigned as a jobs creator with 35 years in business, easily defeated Democrat Keith Fitzgerald in both Sarasota and Manatee counties -- which together make up the 16th Congressional District.

"We need to focus on jobs," Buchanan said in his victory speech. "We've got 23 million people out of work."

To win, Buchanan had to overcome the stigma of two years of federal investigations into his previous campaign financing that Fitzgerald, a college professor, used aggressively against him.

Now, with growing seniority, a seat on a powerful House committee and a more secure hold on office, Buchanan predicted he would have a larger role on prominent issues, such as the federal debt, job creation and entitlement reform.

"I'm getting more seniority and I think I can have a bigger impact for the country going forward," Buchanan said in a recent interview.

Seniority is critical in Washington, where time served is the main currency for deciding committee assignments and leadership posts. Buchanan has been in Congress for just six years, but he has climbed the ranks quickly because of substantial turnover recently in Congress. Already Buchanan outranks almost half of the 435 members of Congress. In Florida's 27-member delegation, only six Republicans have been in office longer.

Already that has helped Buchanan win a position as the delegation co-chairman for 2013 -- a role in which he will coordinate the state's 27 House members on key votes for Florida.

But Buchanan has also gained notice by serving as fundraising chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. In that capacity, Buchanan helped raise money for GOP candidates across the nation.

"No doubt he's made a lot of friends in leadership by doing that," said former U. …

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