Karen Thurman is a former U.S. Representative from Florida. She is a Democrat.
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's Degree from Santa Fe Community College in Starke, Florida in 1970 and her Bachelor's degree in education from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1973.
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 1979-1981. She served in the Florida state senate from 1983-1993, the last four years as president pro tempore.
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.
By the 2000 census, however, the Republicans controlled the state legislature, and they redrew the 5th to be slightly more friendly to Republicans. The new 5th was virtually coextensive with the district of State Senate President Pro Tem Ginny Brown-Waite. Nontheless, 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.
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.