Sen. Don Gaetz's ascension to the Senate presidency came one step closer Wednesday when Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, announced that the Republican from Niceville will be offically designated to the post for the 2013-2014 term during ceremonies on Sept. 19.
"Senator Gaetz is supported by an overwhelming majority of his colleagues in the Republican caucus," Haridopolos said in a prepared statement. "By his accomplishments and his service to others, he has gained the confidence and respect of the Senate and is more than ready for the responsibilities of leading our chamber and our state."
Gaetz serves as chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee and head of the Senate’s appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over transportation, trade, tourism and economic development.
"I am deeply grateful to my fellow senators for the honor of a lifetime and to President Haridopolos for his example of unswerving conservative leadership," Gaetz said in a news release. "Being Republican Senate President-designate is a privilege which I realize must be earned and re-earned every day."
Designation events will include a prayer breakfast in the Senate chamber in the old Capitol and a 3 p.m. ceremony on the Senate floor in the new Capitol, followed by a public reception.
Don Gaetz was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. His Northwest Florida district includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties. Immediately prior to his Senate service he was the elected Superintendent of Schools of Okaloosa County. Gaetz co-founded Florida-based VITAS Healthcare Corporation, the nation’s largest provider of hospice care until he and his partners sold the company in 2004.
Gaetz and his wife, Vicky, live in Niceville and have two adult children: Erin, an editor and sports journalist in New York City, and Matt, a Fort Walton Beach attorney elected in 2011 as a state representative from Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties. Don and Matt are the first father/son, senator/representative team serving simultaneously in the state’s history, according to a news release.