The Florida Senate met Tuesday in what’s called an organizational session to set rules and fill leadership positions for the upcoming legislative session. As lawmakers welcomed one another back to Tallahassee, they also bid farewell to a long-time Republican powerbroker.
That’s a montage in honor of former Sen. John Thrasher (R-Jacksonville). Earlier this month, Thrasher took over as Florida State University’s newest president, and his colleagues in the Senate took turns playfully ribbing him on his way out the door. Former Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) spoke first.
“For these years that he and I have served together, he’s been like a brother to me,” Gaetz says, before continuing, “A much older brother—a much, much older brother.”
And outgoing Senate minority leader Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) got in on the action as well, musing about how to refer to someone with so many titles.
“You can call him Representative, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chair, Senator, and President. You can call him all those things. But I’ll tell you what I’ll call him, I will call him in January for tickets to the national championship game,” Smith says.
Gaetz, Smith and a handful of other Senators shared fond remembrances as well. As Thrasher turns his attention to the university, a special election will be held to fill his now-vacant Senate seat. So far, Thrasher’s tenure has seen final approval in a land swap deal that will give FSU room to expand its Business school.
Next on Thrasher’s agenda? Paychecks.
“We still think that in order to attract the best kinds of professors to our university we’ve got to close the gap in terms of their compensation, and we’re going to work hard on seeing if we can get that done, too,” Thrasher says.
For a university president who touted his relationship with the Legislature, finding a way to secure that funding could be a major first test.