Power Struggle in Tallahassee GOP

A battle among Republcans for the Senate presidency continues to twist and turn.
Until Feb. 9, Sen. Alex Villalobos had enough signed "pledge cards" to become Senate president for a two-year term following the November 2008 elections.
Then Senators began withdrawing their plegde to him an instead backed North Palm Beach Sen. Jeff Atwater. Now neither appear to hold the 14 pledges that would provide a majority of the 26-member Republican caucus. This power struggle been the backstory to work occuring in the Senate and is worth watching closely.

Here are some responses to reporters questions from those who switched their pledge from Villalobos to Atwater:

  • J.D. Alexander, Lake Wales: "Frankly, this is a very unusual situation where a vast majority of the caucus believed we had to have a different leader."
  • Jeff Atwater, North Palm Beach: "This is an internal caucus conversation."
  • Carey Baker, Eustis: "At the time when I signed up with Villalobos, Jeff wasn't running. ... It's really no reflection on Alex. In this case, I guess I made a mistake."
  • Lisa Carlton, Sarasota: "This is the Republican caucus's internal business."
  • Mike Fasano, New Port Richey: "I follow a philosophy, and I followed a philosophy that is more in line with mine. If the Pope were to run for the Senate presidency, then I would leave Sen. Atwater and give him my vote."
  • Dennis Jones, Treasure Island: "There were personal points, and I shared them personally with Villalobos. I felt that I needed to ask for that pledge back."
  • Steve Wise, Jacksonville: "I'm home, I'm sick, I'm under heavy medication for pain (for hemorrhoids), and I thought it was a done deal. ... I wasn't thinking clearly."


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