Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sansom's departure thrusts House Speaker Larry Cretul into spotlight

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's next House speaker is an unassuming real estate agent and Vietnam War veteran from Ocala who is as little known in the halls of the Capitol as he is in the rest of the state.

Larry Cretul, 61, assumed the role Friday after Speaker Ray Sansom of Destin stepped aside to deal with an ongoing criminal investigation and ethics complaint.

Sansom had selected the soft-spoken Cretul to be his right-hand man last fall, naming Cretul the House's speaker pro tempore.

The two met when they were first elected to the House in 2002.

Both are former county commissioners, but Sansom was the one with the ambition to become speaker; Cretul was content with a background role.

Cretul (pronounced CREE-tl) would not respond to requests for comments but told senior House staffers that he was humbled by the opportunity and prepared to move the House forward.

Cretul was first elected in 2002 after he narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Perry McGriff by 35 votes — after the district was redrawn to favor a Republican. He lists his sources of income as the Florida House and his real estate brokerage license, but he reported no income from real estate in 2008. His net worth is $529,000, according to his public financial disclosure reports.

A conservative who serves as a deacon in his Baptist church, Cretul is expected to continue the House's right-of-center approach to issues such as gambling and fiscal policy.

Cretul has championed many conservative issues over the years. He has sponsored legislation to prevent the government from keeping records of guns and gun owners. He has fought to increase penalties for assaulting sports officials. As the owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, he sponsored legislation to prevent restaurants from refusing service to people who ride motorcycles or wear biker attire. And he has filed legislation to ban colleges and universities from using state money to pay for benefits for domestic and same-sex partners.

Several legislators and lobbyists said that Cretul has engendered respect for his thoughtful and conciliatory approach to policymaking and his listen-before-you-speak approach to leadership.

"He's conservative, but he's conservative realistic," said Wilbur Brewton, a Tallahassee lobbyist who has known Cretul for more than a decade.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at

Sansom's departure thrusts House Speaker Larry Cretul into spotlight 01/30/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 7:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations


    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.


    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Boy Scouts apologize over Trump's remarks at jamboree


    Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Donald Trump at the organization's national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news …

    President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean, W.Va. Boy Scouts president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, July 26, in his first public comments on the furor over President Donald Trump's speech on Monday that he'd be "disingenuous" if he suggested he was surprised by the Republican president's comments. [Associated Press]
  3. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports


    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  4. Hit-run driver who refused to leave van threatened to shoot, Hillsborough deputies say

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eddie Carly Colon Soto peeked his head out the broken side window of his van as a SWAT team closed in.

    The driver of this van tried to flee the scene of a crash in north Tampa Thursday morning until he could travel no farther, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Then he refused to leave the van and threatened sheriff's deputies, they said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  5. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox


    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]