Newly elected Lawrence McClure opened his district office in Plant City last week, hours before heading to Tallahassee to prepare for his first term as District 58’s representative.
For the first time since the start of the 2013 legislative session, Plant City had new representation in Tallahassee this week as Lawrence McClure began his first term representing Florida House District 58.
McClure, R-Dover, won the seat in a decisive victory over three opponents in a December special election held following the August retirement of former Rep. Dan Raulerson due to health issues. McClure secured the seat with nearly 55% of the vote in the Dec. 19 election, leaving only a few weeks over the holiday season to prepare for the 2018 session’s Jan. 9 start date.
“I’m excited,” McClure said. “Everything we’ve talked about is happening. It’s been a fast-paced few months. Now we’re here and it’s time to represent the folks of District 58.”
Voters of east Hillsborough County’s District 58 will find McClure’s local office in a familiar place, Raulerson’s old office at 110 W. Reynolds St. They’ll also find some familiar faces as McClure has retained Raulerson’s district secretary, Robyn Bryant. He also brought on campaign aide Kyle Langan as his legislative assistant.
McClure said he decided to keep the office in the same location for logistics with the limited time frame, as well as familiarity for his constituents.
“I love the building. I love the location. I love Plant City,” McClure said. “I want to make sure we have easy access. I’ll have the office in the middle of a pasture if that's the best place for people to come and have access to their representation.”
The Plant City, Temple Terrace and Seffner chambers of commerce held a joint ribbon cutting for the office Jan. 4. Just a few hours later, McClure was headed to Tallahassee to prepare for the coming session.
“We’ve had some tremendous discussions,” Raulerson said. “I think Lawrence is going to do a fantastic job. His values system is very consistent with the area he represents, he comes from a good family and he’s raring to get to work.”
McClure ran on a platform of conservative values and reducing government redundancies. As of the session’s Jan. 9 start, he was assigned to the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee; Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee; Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee; PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee; Public Integrity & Ethics Committee; and the Ways & Means Committee. He is also the sponsor of six bills so far, including proposed legislation regulating worker’s compensation programs, retirement programs and allowing concealed carry in places of worship.
“We’re going to be taking a look at a lot of things,” McClure said. “We’ll be taking a different approach to antiquated systems in education, retirement and insurance. We need to ask, are we being as efficient as we possibly can?”
McClure is entering the legislature at a time of great controversy among representatives like Jack Latvala, who recently resigned from the Senate amid allegations of corruption and sexual harassment, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, whose leadership style has been called dictatorial by critics and some say is motivated by political ambition as he considers a run in the upcoming gubernatorial race.
“The environment in Tallahassee is a bit contentious and controversial these days,” Raulerson said. “He (McClure) probably has a great deal of extra legislative activity that he’s going to have to deal with, but I think he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s the type of person that can weather that storm and give some great representation to District 58.”
McClure, well aware of the political environment he is entering, said integrity will remain a goal during his first session in Tallahassee.
“It’ll be a lot about forming relationships,” he said. “Like anything else, this is new. Being respected and known as someone who is honest and genuine in their belief and principals, that’s what matters now.”