Ranks of moderate Republicans shrink with Sen. Dennis Jones leaving after 32 years
Times/Herald photo by Matthew Riva
Never known to bask in the limelight, Dennis Jones promised he wouldn't make a big deal about his farewell speech to the Florida Senate on Tuesday.
But his colleagues, who call the 70-year-old Seminole Republican the "Dean of the Senate," didn't cooperate, giving him several standing ovations before surprising him by renaming one of his bills the Dennis L. Jones Beach and Shore Preservation Act.
Jones wiped a tear from his eye as he looked at the big screen in the Senate Chamber with the bill bearing his name.
"You caught me off guard," Jones said as his voice shook and he squeezed the hand of his wife, Susan. "So I just want to say, thank you."
With 32 years in the Legislature, Jones is the longest-serving current state lawmaker but term limits are sending him home. His departure is a break from the past and means the ranks of moderate Republicans will grow smaller.