Youth Is No Barrier To Power In Tallahassee

Feb 4, 2013

Number crunching by a Florida university professor has led to an odd conspiracy theory about the Florida House of Representatives.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Very young guys run very powerful committees in the Florida House. How did that happen?

Not that Prof. Mark Soskin actually subscribes to the theory himself. As you hear on TV a lot, he's just sayin'.

And what he's sayin' is that the state House has an usually high number of unusually young members in very powerful positions. Soskin, who teaches business at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, says even youthful House Speaker Will Weatherford, 33, looks a little fatherly next to fellow reps, some as young as 29, who hold committee and subcommittee chairmanships.

Soskin told the Orlando Sentinel -- and you can go here to download his spreadsheet -- that the concentration of youthful committee chairs is certainly not random and could even be a plot.

(Soskin) crunched the numbers, and determined the odds of so many young people coincidentally getting so many leadership positions was approximately 1 in 3,000.

“I’m not ascribing the reason to all this,” Soskin said. “I’m just saying it’s not random. It can’t be.”

Still, Soskin has heard some others ascribe reason – saying that one common theory is that younger legislators are easier to control. So lobbyists handpick the guys they want to run the show, shower them with cash and then help them climb the leadership ladder.

The youngest chairman of them is all is 29-year-old Carlos Trujillo, a lawyer who represents the South Florida city of Doral. He is the chairman of the not-insignificant Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee. There are three other chairmen of committees or subcommittees between 29 and 31 and Soskin pegged the average age of appropriations subcommittee chairmen at 37.

U. S. Senator Marco Rubio was 35 when he became Speaker of the Florida House.

The House occasionally votes out measures that many consider immature, even harebrained, but they are often blocked by the lean and slippered pantaloons of the Florida Senate, where the average age is much higher.