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Senate Says Goodbye To President Andy Gardiner

Senate President Andy Gardiner talks to reporters.
The Florida Channel

The Florida Senate is saying goodbye to its President, Andy Gardiner. The Central Florida lawmaker is term-limited out of the legislature this year, and also at the end of his time leading the chamber.

The Florida Senate currently has three former president’s in its chamber. Republican’s Don Gaetz and Tom Lee and Democrat Gwen Margolis. Now it’s saying goodbye to its current Senate President, Andy Gardiner. Gardiner, of Orlando, has worked his way up into that leadership position. His career began in 2000 when he was elected to the Florida House. In 2008 he was elected to the Senate, serving as Majority leader in both chambers.  Many of his senate colleagues also served with Gardiner in the House, where as Republican Senator Thad Altman recalls, Gardiner led the House’s Wednesday morning prayer sessions:

“He selected we’d do a series of tapes following the Book ‘A Purpose-Driven Life’ by Rick Warren…So we did the series of tapes and we had our last meeting and I go to it and who’s leading the meeting? Rick Warren. And  I realized then this Andy Gardiner is a remarkable guy. When he does something, he does it right.”

Throughout his time in office, Gardiner has championed bills for people with disabilities. His son has Down Syndrome. But as Republican Senator Anitere Flores, during Gardiner’s last year in the House, a bill he championed failed.

“At the time, it was so hard for us, which was do you do the right thing for a few people, when we should be fighting to do the right thing for all people. It was a tough decision for Andy at the time because he said, I know I can block this, but we have to do the right thing for the people we can help at the time," said Flores. "That was a difficult decision at the time, but I think a testament to your leadership to put yourself aside and do what was right for other people.”

And as Democratic Senator Arthenia Joyner recounts, Gardiner has never been afraid to cross the political aisle and he did so, along with former Tallahassee Representative Lorrane Ausley.

“She had a child born with unique abilities, and you consoled her. You had a child born with unique abilities, and the two of you together have made history in this state.”

But for Gardiner, like other lawmakers before him, the time has come. When the Florida legislature adjourns later this week, Gardiner will go home permanently. And he says he’s ready, but not without some final advice for his colleagues:

“You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna laugh. You’re going to yell. But I will tell you this. Enjoy every minute of it. Surround yourself with people you enjoy being around, because you’re going to be around them a lot. I can assure you of that. On behalf of the Gardiner family, and to everyone who’s been here a part of my political career, thank you….It’s time to go home.”