Cretul: Let's get down to business
Rep. Larry Cretul summed up the last 96 hours in a word: "Wow."
So began his introduction as the accidental speaker of the Florida House, facing a packed room of reporters for a 1 p.m. news conference. Cretul pledged to get on with the business of the chamber and all Floridians, and promised to be a calming force. (Buzz audio of the news conference here.)
"I did not campaign for this position, and I have no promises to fulfill," the 61-year-old Ocala Republican said, adding he prepared for the day by reviewing some favorite books: the Bible, The Art of War and The Power of Words.
"We are going to have to work together for the Floridians who are counting on us," Cretul said. At his right was his new chief of staff, Dudley Goodlette, the former state representative from Naples, who is replacing deposed speaker Ray Sansom's No. 1 man, Mike Hansen.
Cretul said he intends to appoint Sansom to some committees but was not sure what. He said he will still consult with his friend, just as he will any representative. Cretul expects to retain the structure Sansom set up, including having two budget chiefs. A speaker pro tem will be named soon.
"Here is a priority: The budget, the budget, the budget and I must say, the budget," Cretul said.
Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said:
"I don't know Larry all that well yet," he said. "I've always found him to be one that was easy to work with from the standpoint of give-and-take and being more interested in solutions rather than taking a stake in the ground ... I anticipate our relationship will be a good one."
He spoke by phone with Cretul Sunday while driving from Palm Beach County to Tallahassee. "I wished him well and he seemed to be working through all the things that were in his mind," Atwater said. "He's done a fine job of getting his feet on the ground."