While most of the focus during Florida’s legislative session is on House, Senate, and party leaders, it’s the folks behind the scenes doing many of the heavy lifts. For the second year in a row, Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) is in one of the key leadership positions. He explains exactly what goes into being the House’s Minority Whip.
Alexander is entering his third term and fifth year of representing Leon and Gadsden counties. Among his many tasks: showing incoming lawmakers the ropes. He says that’s a lot of what being a Minority Whip is.
"My role as House Democratic Whip is to make sure that they understand the process, it’s a very complex process," said Alexander. "Although we might be in the minority caucus currently, there’s still so many critical aspects to that process that we’re able to be effective and make a significant impact."
While each elected official represents their own constituents Alexander says it’s his job to make sure all of the Democrats in the House are on the same page.
"But also recognize we have a set of core values and core principles and we are looking to have a strong caucus that works towards those ideals. And we play our critical role in asking the tough questions and making sure we hold the line on tough issues that are important to the future of the state of Florida," said Alexander.
In addition to acting as a guide for freshman legislators, Alexander says being in the leadership role allows him access to more of the lawmaking process.
"It gives me a deeper insight of what’s going on. I’m at the negotiation table on a regular basis. I’m able to understand in a deeper sense where those negotiations are going," said Alexander. "And really moving our caucus forward in order to ensure that all people of this state, not just certain counties, or red counties, or blue counties but all the people of this state have fulfilled representation."
But the primary responsibility of the whip? Ensuring there are enough votes within the party for and against issues. Democrats are in the minority this year—so they’ll need to stick together in order to derail any Republican bills that require a super-majority vote. Alexander will work closely with Rep. Joe Geller (D-Aventura) who has been chosen as the Floor Leader. Geller’s position means he will be the chief spokesman during floor sessions.