Senate GOP leadership scrambleby Dara Kam | February 21st, 2012
Former House Speaker and powerful Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher may have tipped his hand too soon in a bid to make history as the second lawmaker to serve as leader of both chambers.
Thrasher is embroiled in a fight with Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner over the 2014 Senate presidency. Gardiner had already assembled the pledges to assume the leadership role after incoming Senate President Don Gaetz. But Sen. Jack Latvala, a political mastermind who returned to the Senate last year, launched a play for the 2014 top spot.
The drama played out in the Senate Office Building late Tuesday evening. Talk around the Capitol had Gardiner handing over his presumed presidency to Thrasher, who would be followed in 2016 by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart.
But a tired-looking Thrasher left the Senate Office Building around 7 p.m., and more than an hour later, Gardiner was still holed up in his office.
“I am very humbled and very happy. It’s been a real eye-opening thing for me,” Gardiner, R-Orlando, said, emerging from his office for a bathroom break. “I’m a happy warrior.”
Gardiner credited Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, with helping gird his support, calling Simmons “a rock star.”
Thrasher apparently was unable to convince enough of Gardiner’s pledges to switch over. But before going home, the veteran legislator – who also served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida – did not exactly concede.
“If I got enough votes, I guess I would be” Senate president in 2014, the St. Augustine Republican said. “I don’t know. We’re going to wait and see what happens. I think it’s premature to talk about that right now.”
Negron called the “leadership discussions” normal.
“There have been discussions today as there were yesterday and will be tomorrow and next month and next year among the family caucus on how we want to proceed,” the Stuart Republican said. He said the future presidency was still up in the air. “We’re talking about that.”
And he said he’s been “quietly been gaining support” for his 2016 bid.
“We’ll have to see how the rest of it plays out,” he said.
Thrasher played down what may have been a tide-turning loss Tuesday.
“I’m taking over the last three weeks and throwing Mike Haridopolos out and then I’m taking over from Gaetz and all that,” he joked.