House Has New Speaker
February 2nd, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda
There is turmoil at the state capitol tonight as Republican House leaders scramble to elect a new speaker. Rep. Ray Sansom sought to temporarily step down from the top post on Friday following 2 months of criticism for possible ethical and criminal violations. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, House Republicans will meet later tonight to choose a permanent replacement.
Ray Sansom spent 2 months in virtual silence over allegations he steered state money to a hometown college, took a six-
figure job from the school, and helped arrange a meeting out of the sunshine.
When he did speak, it was too little too late.
Facing a grand jury and two ethics investigations Sansom on Friday sought to step down temporarily. But by Monday, GOP colleagues decided to make it permanent, Rep. Larry Cretul of Ocala has already taken over and will become the Speaker in March.
“I did not campaign for this position and I have no promises to fulfill,” Cretul said. “I have no ambition other then spending time with my grandsons, and they are the only ones I hope to impress.”
Democrat Mary Brandenberg says the controversy has hurt the House as a whole.
“Because we’ve been in a lot of turmoil, there is going to be a perception that we’re weaker,” Brandenberg said.
But the men next in line for power say it is time to move forward.
“Certainly it’s been a challenging time,” Rep. Will Wetherford (R-Pasco County) said. “I think there have been some distractions, there is no denying that. But look, I’m a believer that we have to focus on the task at hand.”
Meanwhile, Governor Charlie Crist is wisely staying out of the internal politics of the House.
Because he knows no matter who is in charge, he’ll have to deal with them.