Dinner at 'the people's house'
More than 120 people crowded into the Governor's Mansion Monday night for Gov. Charlie Crist's first State of the State Dinner.
The list of invitees included state agency chiefs, friends of Crist, campaign supporters and donors, lobbyists and press corps members.
Republican party chairman Jim Greer and Democratic Party chairman Karen Thurman were there, as were Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio; Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach; Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville; lobbyists Brian Ballard, Ron Book and J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich; Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough; GOP fund-raiser Jorge Arrizurieta; fish and wildlife conservation commissioner Rodney Barreto; St. Pete Times editor and chairman Paul Tash; Rep. Marty Bowen; highway safety chief Electra Bustle; and state elections chief Kurt Browning.
"I just think it's important to have an opportunity to open up the people's house to more people as much as I can," Crist said.
It was a most unusual event. People who have been around 10, 15, and 20 years said they had never seen anything like it. Lobbyist Book said it was the first time he had dined at the mansion since his ex-boss, Bob Graham, was governor. It was also the first mansion meal (stuffed chicken) in a very long time for a leading Democrat, Bob Butterworth -- Crist's child welfare secretary.