Karen Thurman

Karen Thurman
Chairman of the
Florida Democratic Party
In office
Preceded by Scott Maddox
Succeeded by Rod Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1993  January 3, 2003
Preceded by Bill McCollum
Succeeded by Ginny Brown-Waite
Member of the Florida Senate
In office
Personal details
Born (1951-01-12) January 12, 1951
Rapid City, South Dakota
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) John Thurman

Karen L. Thurman (born January 12, 1951) is a former U.S. Representative from Florida. She is a Democrat.[1]

Early Life and Education

She was born on January 12, 1951 in Rapid City, South Dakota, but has spent most of her life in Florida. She received her associate degree from Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville in 1970 and her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in 1973. She is married to John Thurman. They have two children, McLin (Macky) and Liberty Lee, and make their home in Dunnellon, Florida.

Early Political Career

Thurman was first elected to public office in 1974, when she won a seat on the city council of Dunnellon, Florida, on which she served until 1983. She served as Mayor of Dunnellon from 1979 to 1981. She served in the Florida State Senate from 1983 to 1993.


Florida gained three congressional districts after the 1990 census. One of them was the 5th District, which stretched from Gainesville to the far northern portion of the Tampa Bay Area. It was an open secret that this district was drawn for Thurman. She was elected to the House from that district in 1992 and was reelected four more times with no serious opposition.

Thurman was recognized as an expert on health, veterans, and tax issues. She was only the sixth woman to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. On Ways and Means she fought for lower prescription drugs, increased access to health insurance, and tax relief. Prior to her appointment to Ways and Means in 1996, Congresswoman Thurman served on both the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

After the 2000 census, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature reconfigured the 5th so it was virtually coextensive with the State Senate district of that body's President Pro Tem, Ginny Brown-Waite. Nonetheless, Thurman ran for reelection. Even though the redrawn district had gone narrowly for George W. Bush in 2000 (Al Gore had won her old district handily), Thurman just barely lost to Brown-Waite.

Florida Democratic Party

In 2005 Thurman was elected Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), succeeding Chairman Scott Maddox, who resigned in order to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.[2] Thurman resigned on November 12, 2010 following the midterm elections.[3]


Her son Macky Thurman unsuccessfully ran for the state house in 2006. Her husband was a circuit judge.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill McCollum
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Ginny Brown-Waite
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