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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cretul takes the House reins



Sansom_cretul_400_55303a The House Republican caucus, in an unprecedented and solemn proceeding, just voted to install Rep. Larry Cretul as the new leader, effectively stripping Ray Sansom from his job as speaker. (Buzz audio here.)

Cretul, pictured at right, is expected to become the permanent speaker on March 3, when the full 120-member House begins the 60-day regular session. He is technically still speaker pro tem and Sansom the speaker, but tonight's vote clears the way for the transition.

"We face challenges like Florida has never faced before ... and that is where our focus must be," said Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Delray Beach. "Members, it is time to move forward."

"Tonight as members of the Florida House," Hasner went on, "you are being asked to make a choice between confusion, disorder and uncertainty or clarity, order and stability."

The chamber was dead silent during the process, only a singular voice filling the chamber that Sansom hoped to lead for two years. At 9:11 p.m., Sansom’s resignation as caucus leader was accepted.

Then Cretul was nominated as his replacement. The names of each of the 74 members were called out for their vote.

When it came time for Sansom, he responded like the rest: “Cretul.”

It was all over at 9:18 p.m.

“It was just surreal,” said Rep. Sandy Adams of Oviedo.

"It was something that had to be done so we can get the work done for the people of Florida," said Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City. "It was nothing any of us wanted to do. I feel like I've lost my best friend."

Just a few weeks ago, Sansom stood behind the expansive mahogany rostrum and was sworn in by former state Rep. John Stargel. Sansom, 46 and a father of three, quoted pastor Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life.

"The first sentence of that book says, 'It's not about you.' It can't be about us. If we walk in here with the attitude that it's not about us, it's about the people we serve, we will meet the challenges for the next two years in the state of Florida. I am convinced of that."

That night, the trustees at Northwest Florida State College hired him to a $110,000 job.

"Certainly there was a distraction taking place in the Legislature and we wanted to do the best we could to make a clean break,'' said Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.


[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:17pm]


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