When former House speaker Richard Corcoran announced in May he would not run for governor and would, instead, endorse Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary, he said he was “going home” to Land O’ Lakes.
It turns out, Corcoran didn’t go home for long.
The Pasco County Republican will apparently return to Tallahassee as part of the administration of Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis announced Thursday afternoon that he’ll recommend Corcoran to Florida’s State Board of Education to serve as the next Florida Education Commissioner.
“I am proud to recommend Richard Corcoran for Florida Education Commissioner and know that he will put his experience and passion for the success of Florida’s students to work in this new role,” said DeSantis. “Richard is known as a no-nonsense reformer whose sole focus has been how best to support students, parents and teachers. This issue is very personal to me. Casey and I believe that the future of our children and the future of all Florida’s children depend on our education system. I know Richard will never stop fighting until every child in Florida has access to a world-class education.”
In addition to recommending the former speaker as education commissioner, DeSantis named state Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from South Florida, to serve as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Corcoran would succeed Pam Stewart, who last month agreed to stick around for another full year as commissioner. But in an about face, Stewart announced Tuesday she’ll leave her post January 8, Inauguration Day, clearing the way for Corcoran to lead Florida’s K-12 system.
Corcoran could shakeup the education system in Florida. During his two years as speaker he made education reform a centerpiece of his administration. He is a big supporter of school choice programs and made charter schools a priority during his two years as speaker.
He spearheaded the push in 2017 to pass “Schools of Hope” which allows for the creation of more charter schools, which he argues would give parents and students an opportunity to transfer out of failing public schools. The controversial law was challenged in the courts by 13 local school boards. The lawsuit was dismissed by a circuit judge earlier this year.
As speaker, Corcoran also made a name for himself by targeting government waste and promoting accountability and transparency in state agencies. That was especially true with Visit Florida which he singled out for its secretive deals and operations in marketing the state’s tourism industry.
Moskowitz was first elected to serve in the Florida House of Representatives in 2012. He was a key figure in the passage earlier this year of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Moskowitz, who is from Coral Springs, also served his local community on his city commission, where he was elected at age 25 while a second-year law student.
“Representative Moskowitz will be a great leader for the future of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, preparing our state for situations that need rapid response and real-time execution in the face of crisis,” said DeSantis. “Florida has a long history of being a model for the nation in emergency preparedness and response, and with Jared at the helm, I am confident this legacy will continue. Floridians will be well served with Jared Moskowitz leading this vital agency.”