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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Larry Cretul elected speaker



Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady, left, swears in new Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul.

In quick fashion, the House moments ago elected Larry Cretul as its speaker, officially ending Ray Sansom's short tenure as head of the 120-member chamber.

Cretul, R-Ocala, took the oath from Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady. Sansom, who lost the post as he deals with questions over his dealings with Northwest Florida State College, looked on and applauded from his seat in the second row.

"Unless you have been out of the country or away from your district, you know the challenges that we are faced with," Cretul said in remarks that were notably short. "And it is an uphill battle for us." But he said he is confident that by working together, "we are going to succeed."

At 10:44 a.m., Cretul used the gavel to quiet the chamber as he introduced his wife and all the spouses in the gallery. "They heard it," Cretul said of the less-than-intimidating banging of the gavel.

Sansom was embraced by several members as he left the room. Rep. Mike Scionti, D-Tampa, gave him a long hug and whispered in his ear. "His family is going through some difficult times and as a Christian, I just wanted to show him my support."


Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin, ponders the moment as Cretul is sworn in Tuesday as the new Speaker of the Florida House. Sansom had resigned the position.

Times photos by Scott Keeler


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 7:29pm]


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