State Rep. Joe Saunders makes MSNBC's "12 Gay Candidates to Watch in 2014" list!



With Pride month wheezing its last breaths of, well, excited breathlessness, it's nice to see that Florida's first elected (or second, depending on how you deal with tie matches that include South Florida Rep. David Richardson) LGBT state representative Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, is getting some black-and-white national recognition via a slideshow on MSNBC. Saunders, who was elected in 2012 despite Republican Party of Florida machinations to get challenger Marco Pena (he of the recent expressway authority squeal heard across the state) into Tallahassee's policy meat grinder, first heard of the accolade late last evening, and "thought it was really cool, really nice, to see people recognize the work that I've been doing," he says over the phone. IT IS COOL!

That work so far has included new rules for charter schools (specifically dealing with the practice of overpaying principals of failed schools), safety standards in preschools, arts education, and garnering bipartisan support for measures that would (and will) address workplace discrimination and bullying.

"What I've been putting out there is that I think there is some unfinished business," he says.

First, though, there's the November election, which now might include Republican Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, who lost to Pena in the 2012 primary. Plasencia will have to beat out some retired police detective named Ed Rodriguez in the August primary, and likely will with a little help from his friends. If re-elected, Saunders promises to keep rolling with his momentum.

"I hope that what I get to do in my next term is an extension of what I’ve done so far," he says.