Senate bids Haridopolos adieuby Dara Kam | March 8th, 2012
The Senate gave President Mike Haridopolos a country club membership and heartfelt, bipartisan and lengthy send-off before the unveiling of his portrait, marking the end of the Merritt Island Republican’s two-year tenure at the podium and his 12-year legislative career.
“I’ll miss being in the arena,” Haridopolos, accompanied by his wife Stephanie, children and parents, said. “I’ll miss some of you. But I’ll love being home and I think you can all understand why.”
Haridopolos’s colleagues heaped praise on Haridopolos for two hours, including a “tribute video” starring GOP icons Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, under whom Haridopolos served when Rubio was Florida House Speaker.
Haridopolos acknowledged his tenure has been at times contentious, including a blow-up a year ago on the final night of the legislative session.
“I know I agitated some. Too bad,” he said.
And Haridopolos, who was responsible for the creation of the state’s Innocence Commission now examining ways to preventing people from being wrongly incarcerated, spoke of two of his priority issues: getting compensation for William Dillon, who spent 27 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, and Eric Brody, a Broward County man left severely disabled more than a decade ago after a sheriff’s deputy crashed into him.
He failed to accomplish those goals last year, but launched a semblable effort this session. Gov. Rick Scott, who also attended part of the farewell, last week signed into law the $1.35 million restitution for Dillon. But with one day left until the session is scheduled to end, the two chambers have yet to agree on compensation for Brody.
Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, a veteran lawmaker and former House Speaker, lauded Haridopolos for being unafraid to bring up controversial issues – including a parent trigger bill up for a vote on the final day of session – during the last days of the session that ends tomorrow.
“It’s not about that kind of stuff with Mike Haridopolos. It’s about ideas. It’s about challenging the status quo. It’s about shaking things up and giving this body the opportunity to look at those very, very tough issues and make a decision,” Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said. “And that you have been a champion.
Don’t ever leave thinking that wins and losses is what this is about. It’s not about that. You, you are a winner in the highest sense of the word.”