Senate bids farewell to President Atwaterby Dara Kam | April 23rd, 2010
“A wonderful, wonderful textbook example of what a president ought to be,” said Sen. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat. “Mr. Atwater, President of the Senate, is a class act.”
Flanked by his wife Carole and two of his four children, Atwater addressed the Senate for the last time with just a week left to the 2010 legislative session. The North Palm Beach banker is quitting the Senate to run statewide for chief financial officer.
“I know we have been in challenging times. I know we have often asked the question, how do we get to this place of the prosperity and the opportunity that Floridians have so long fought for?” Atwater told the chamber, holding up a pamphlet. “I just would like to share with you two last places where I hold faith: the inspired words of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of our country.”
He concluded his 20-minute remarks on a patriotic note, saying he has confidence that “Florida will be stronger than ever” despite the current economic conditions.
“How tough it ever gets for us, I just ask you to believe again. This is the finest country on earth. We have been given the finest governance by our founders that any country that’s ever been and probably ever will be. We offer more hope and opportunity than anyone else on this planet,” Atwater said.
“Believe in it. Miracles do not cluster. And I remain confident no matter how the challenges may look at the moment, that angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.”
Atwater’s portrait displays his family’s prominence in Florida’s political history. He holds a copy of a newspaper that reported his great-grandfather Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward’s tugboat “3 Friends.” Behind him is a photograph of the Duval House, the family home that is now an historic site in Jacksonville.
Because of limited space in the Senate chambers, one portrait must come down before another is added.
Atwater’s portrait will replace that of Frederick Preston Cone, Senate President in 1911 and 1912 who later became governor.
Cone created the Florida drivers license to fund the highway patrol, Atwater said.
But Atwater related a more interesting anecdote about Cone. According to the history books, Cone was 17 years old when he shot and wounded a man.
“His justification in those historic accounts are it was a stubborn and belligerent Republican,” Atwater said. “How little things have changed.”