'Once a senator, always a senator' at nostalgic Capitol reunion
The Florida Senate happily turned back the clock Tuesday as it carried on its tradition of a reunion with dozens of former members.
The returning ex-senators included former Secretary of State Katherine Harris, former Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson, Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist. Others from the Tampa Bay area included John Grant, Dennis Jones, Don Sullivan, Paula Dockery and Jim Hargrett. Several of them didn't have to travel far -- they work as lobbyists in the Capitol.
Frank Mann, the "darkhorse" 1986 candidate for governor was there, standing in a group portrait next to his friend and ex-colleague Tom McPherson. So was Charles Williams, the last senator to call Live Oak home, and former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of West Palm Beach. Rick Dantzler of Winter Haven, who was Buddy MacKay's running mate in 1998, was on hand.
As part of the tradition, Senate Secretary Debbie Brown read off the list of senators who died since the last reunion two years ago. They included Eddie Gong of Miami, Helen Gordon Davis of Tampa, Tom Slade of Jacksonville, Ken Plante of Oviedo, Beth Johnson of Cocoa Beach, Bob Johnson of Sarasota and Durell Peaden of Crestview.