Outgoing senator won't run for House
By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
TALLAHASSEE -- Sen. Donald Sullivan, a Seminole Republican who spent years championing education issues, announced Thursday that he will not run for a House seat this year after facing term limits in the Senate.
Sullivan said he consulted colleagues and family members before deciding over the holidays to get out of politics at the end of the year after spending a decade in the state Senate.
"It's a very melancholy time for me. I'm going to miss doing this," he said. "But it was time to move away from the Legislature."
Sullivan plans to get through the legislative session, which starts later this month, before talking to people about jobs and deciding "what to do with the rest of my life." He said he does not plan to run for office.
"Ten years ago, I decided to serve my neighbors and my community with the hope that I could make a difference and bring about some positive change for Florida," he said. "I am proud to have championed various pieces of legislation which have benefited the Pinellas County area."
Sullivan is credited with helping permit St. Petersburg College to award four-year degrees, split off the University of South Florida's branch campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota and creating the College University Center in Seminole.
"He will leave a legacy in higher education unequaled in this county," St. Petersburg College president Carl Kuttler said. "He was able to make a difference."
Sullivan, 65, an orthopedic surgeon, was first elected to the Senate in 1992 after being recruited by his friend, former Sen. John Grant, R-Tampa.
A moderate Republican, he took on education as a pet project from the start, supporting programs to give students books, educate disabled children and begin the charter school system in Florida, among others. This year, he serves as the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on education during this year's budget crisis.
"I'm sorry to see him go," said Pinellas County School Board member Jane Gallucci, the immediate past president of the Florida School Boards Association. "He knows how important education is."
Sullivan had previously announced plans to run for a House seat representing a district that stretches from Tarpon Springs to Pinellas Park. But it's unclear what it will look like after it's redrawn by the Legislature this year.
But many of his colleagues convinced him he didn't want to run for the House after serving in the Senate.
"I'm one of the people who told him I thought leaving public career as a senator was the way to do it," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor. "I'm not one of those enamored with leaving the Senate to go to the House."
Rep. Larry Crow, who occupies the House seat now, can't run again because of term limits. Two Dunedin officials, Mayor Tom Anderson and City Commissioner Janet Henderson, plan to run. Sullivan said he is bowing out of the race, but not because he didn't want to run.
"A lot of people told me I would not be happy over there," he said of the House. "It is so different."
-- Times staff writer Lucy Morgan contributed to this report.
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