Florida’s Political Parties

by the Florida House of Representatives

Political parties as a cohesive force in Florida may be said to date from the organization of the Jeffersonian Republican Democratic Party at St. Joseph on January 11, 1839.

The organization of this party caused its opposition to similarly band together in a group known as the Whig Party. By 1845, when Florida’s entered the Union, the Jeffersonian Republican Democratic Party had trimmed its awkward title to simply the Democratic Party.

In 1852, the Whigs had gravitated to two other parties: the Southern Rights Whigs to the Democratic and the remaining Whigs to eh American, or Know Nothing, Party. In the crucial year 1960, they shifted again, to the Constitutional Union Party.

The resurgence of party politics after the Civil War saw two national parties, the Republican and the Democratic. In Florida, the question of white
supremacy attracted dissidents from both parties to a new Independent Party, which won 12 of the 32 Senate seats and 23 of the 88 House seats in
the 1884 Legislature. After that election, the status quo was restored to the Democratic and Republican parties with a few deviations. Populists captured a few legislative seats in 1890. Sidney J. Catts, while professing to be a Democrat, won the governorship on the Prohibition ticket in 1916. On other ballots, there have been Socialist, Progressive, Communist, and Dixiecrat candidates. Of those, at least one Socialist, A. J. Pettigrew, won election to the House from Manatee County for the 1907 Session.

From: People in Lawmaking, Florida House of Representatives, 423 The Capitol, 402 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, 32399-1300, April, 2000.