After dramatic vote, Darryl Rouson tops Mia Jones in leadership race

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Feb 21, 2013 No Comments ›› Wes Hodge

After two rounds of voting, state Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg topped Mia Jones of Jacksonville in the race to serve as the House’s top Democrat for the 2014-2016 term.

“Mia, thank you,” Rouson said after winning on a 23-21 vote. “Sister, we are going to work together.”

Jones echoed the tone of compromise.

“Our caucus has spoken, and we leave out of here tonight a united front,” Jones said after the vote.

The vote came on a heated race that saw both candidates take jab at one another.

In mid-January, Rouson was showing supporters and reporters a binder of 27 pledge-cards, enough to easily capture the win. After going public with the votes, he charged that current Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, was delaying a vote to help churn up support for Jones, a charge Thurston denied.

After Rouson went public with the cards, rumor began to circulate that some members were beginning to have second thoughts. Rouson at one point claimed 29-pledge cards, meaning seven early supporters jumped ship.

To fill time as the second round of votes were tabulated a host of speakers including Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux, former Minority Leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West, and state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, took to the podium to preach party unity as the 22-22 vote hung over the room.

Jones said she came into the evening thinking she had enough votes to secure the win, and was surprised when the first vote tied.

Click here for the Jacksonville.com story

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