The Modern Republican Party in Florida
by Pete Dunbar and Mike Haridopolos
Florida Bar member and former Representative Pete Dunbar partnered with political consultant and former president of the Florida Senate, Mike Haridopolos, to record the rise of the Republican Party in Florida during the last century in The Modern Republican Party in Florida, published by the University Press of Florida in 2019.
The book chronicles Florida's transformation from a Deep South state ruled by a dominant state legislature represented by rural communities rooted in vestiges of segregation and preserving the status quo in Tallahassee, to representation from the state's burgeoning cities downstate, which focused on tax-friendly policies, economic development, environmental protections, educational reform, and efforts to modernize state government.
The shift from Democratic to Republican dominance closely mirrored migration patterns and population growth in Florida after World War II. But this shift would not have been possible without the landmark reapportionment rulings requiring one-person, one-vote legislative districts. In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated that legislative districts in Tennessee be based upon equal groupings of the state's population in Baker v. Carr. Two years, later the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Swann v. Adams that Florida's legislature had not complied with Carr's one-person, one-vote standard.
After the legislature attempted, unsuccessfully, to reapportion its chambers three times, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida determined that judicial apportionment was necessary and implemented a judicial apportionment plan in 1967. These new legislative districts forever changed Florida's political landscape. Representatives from rural towns dubbed the "Pork Chop Gang" no longer controlled the legislative agenda while Florida's...