A little male bonding at Governor's Mansion
A little male political bonding took place at the Governor's Mansion Monday night. Gov. Charlie Crist invited the incoming leaders of the Legislature over for some wine and a meal of swordfish and rice pilaf. Reporters sitting a few feet away had trouble hearing everything, but it seemed like mostly small talk: FSU football's kicking game and even why state senators serve staggered terms (Sen. Jeff Atwater was explaining that one to Crist's fiancee, Carole Rome).
The dinner was a smooth start to what could be a rocky journey as the state's finances remain very shaky and more bad revenue news is expected by the end of this week.
"We love you as people," Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp told Atwater and Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin, who will be sworn in as House speaker Tuesday. "Yeah, there's challenges but there are opportunities too." Both lawmakers brought their wives and kids and Atwater brought his mom, Mrs. Patricia Atwater, and he regaled the group with stories about his great-grandfather, the flamboyant Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, who served a century ago.
"His entrepreneurial spirit is what led him to public office -- Florida's Fighting Democrat," Atwater said. "So we have a great bit of bipartisanship too." At one point, Crist chief of staff Eric Eikenberg pulled Atwater aside for a brief talk in which Atwater nodded his head in agreement. Eikenberg said later he was only reminding the senator that "the governor and the governor's office is committed to working with them."
With pool reporting by Mary Ellen Klas of The Miami Herald