Joe Negron is Newest Member of Florida State
Known when he was in the House for a sometimes frenetic pace, Stuart Republican Joe Negron is expected to bring that verve into the historically more staid Senate after handily winning a special election on Tuesday for the seat vacated early by Sen. Ken Pruitt.
Following an abbreviated campaign in which he nonetheless spent more than $420,000, the former state representative becomes the chamber’s newest member as he represents District 28, having deafeated Democratic challenger Bill Ramos by a more than 3 to 1 margin.
Negron is expected to add a more conservative voice to a Senate that has historically been the more moderate of the two chambers.
“In these tight financial times, government has to live within its means just like Florida’s families do,” Negron said Wednesday. “That will be a top priority.”
Negron, 47, cut short his House career in 2006 when he resigned to run for attorney general, a race he eventually conceded to former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum.
Unable to get beyond McCollum’s vastly more recognizable name, Negron withdrew from the race and followed through on a pledge not to run for his old House seat.
He then ran an unsuccessful last-minute Congressional campaign after being chosen to replace Republican incumbent Mark Foley on the ballot when Foley resigned abruptly after charges of inappropriate behavior with a Congressional page. Foley’s name remained on the ballot, however, and Negron lost a close race to Democrat Tom Rooney.
Known as a quick study, Negron rose to power in the House after being elected in 2000. He was assigned increasingly more prestigious committee assignments culminating in his stint as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee under House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City.
As budget chief, Negron pushed the chamber’s agenda that put more money in reserves as state coffers became awash in revenue following a pair of disaster hurricane seasons and a rebuilding and real estate boom that followed.
Pruitt, first elected to the Legislature in 1990, announced in May that he would retire early and allow his replacement to gain a seniority leg up on members of the new freshman class of 2010.
“There will be no learning curve,” Pruitt said of his successor. “Forget about hitting the ground running. He’ll start off in a sprint.”
Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, said Wednesday Negron brings valuable budget experience to the chamber in tough financial times and he expects Negron to play an immediate role.
“He is very accomplished and understands the budget process very well,” said Hardiopolos, who is expected to become the next Senate president following the 2010 General Election. “He comes over with a lot of respect.”
After leaving the House, Negron focused his attentions on private practice as an associate in the statewide law firm of Akerman Senterfitt.
Born in West Palm Beach in 1961, Negron received his undergraduate degree from Stetson University in 1983. He went on to earn a law degree three years later from Emory University. A master’s degree in public administration from Harvard came more recently.
Negron and his wife Rebecca live in Stuart and have three children. Their oldest son, David, is a recent graduate of Florida State University. Jonathan is an incoming freshman at Cornell and Becca is a junior at South Fork High School in Martin County.