As state lawmakers return to Tallahassee next week to swear in new members and legislative leaders, battered Florida Democrats are taking a hard look at how to elect more of their own.

The State Republican Party expanded its prodigious dominance in the State House, picking up two open seats and taking a third that was held by a Democrat in Broward County.

Fort Lauderdale Democrat Chris Smith becomes the new House Minority Leader, replacing St. Augustine’s Doug Wiles. He says his relationship with the incoming House Leadership is strong (roll tape#1 o.q.�budget deficit�)

Doug Bense replaces Plant City’s Johnny Byrd, who ended up losing in the Republican Party’s contest for U.S. Senate.

Representative Smith says he wants to form a panel of experts to analyze what happened in last week’s election….

Republicans outspent Democrats by 3-1, pouring $9 million into House races, compared with $3 million for Democrats.

The Florida Senate is unchanged, with 26 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Palm Beach County Senator Ron Klein will be in his last session as Senate Minority Leader. He says there are 2 ways to approach where the Democrats now stand in Tallahassee – one is the way that Districts are apportioned (roll tape#1 o.q.�the process works�)

And Klein is recommending what has been suggested by St. Petersburg Times Editorial writer Martin Dyckman for several years – that is , to take away re-apportionment from the Legislature and give it to

An independent reapportionment commission (roll tape#3 o.q. “and Congress�)

Meanwhile, Democratic losses have brought some criticism of Florida Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox, a former candidate for state attorney general with his own political ambitions. But Maddox said the national election was beyond the control of Florida Democrats and he does not face any serious threat of being ousted.

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