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Thrasher plays down talk of job as FSU president

Does state Sen. John Thrasher have his eye on the presidency at Florida State University, his beloved alma mater? That's what everybody seems to think.

Prominent FSU alumni and boosters are wondering if Thrasher, a well-regarded fundraiser, is the best man for the job being vacated by Eric Barron.

Thrasher, 70, isn't saying much, at least right now.

"Nobody's contacted me," he told the Times/Herald. "I haven't had any discussions with anybody. I know people are buzzing about it, but I plan on being the best senator I can be for the next two months and represent the people of District 6."

He may not have that long.

Board of Trustees members are gearing up for a national search. They will name an interim president, identify the members of the search committee and hire a firm during a meeting Friday.

Once that happens, the search could unfold quickly. Florida Atlantic University and Florida A&M University named new presidents within two weeks after applications were due.

Thrasher, who earned bachelor's and law degrees from FSU, is one of the school's most prominent alums. He is a former House speaker, former chairman of the state Republican Party and now one of the state Senate's leaders. During his time in the private sector as a lobbyist, Thrasher served as chairman of FSU's Board of Trustees.

He has helped funnel millions in state and private funding to the school. The FSU School of Medicine building was named after him.

FSU Faculty Senate president Gary Tyson, who is a member of the Board of Trustees, said the university's professors and instructors would prefer to have an academic with experience moving a university higher in national rankings as the next president. Still, he said, no one is being ruled out.

"I think we want everybody to have an open mind," Tyson said.

Health website up, limited

After years of delay — and some last-minute website concerns that slowed things down a few more weeks — Florida's state-based health exchange has finally launched at myfloridachoices.org.

Florida Health Choices was the vision of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio when he served as Florida House speaker. But it has changed in scope over the years, partially because the federal insurance marketplace tied to the Affordable Care Act stole lots of thunder from Rubio's pet project.

The Florida Health Choices board decided to target the uninsured who don't qualify for subsidies on the Obamacare site, as well as people who may be looking for plans to supplement the insurance they already have.

The exchange offers discount cards and prepaid plans for services like dental and vision. There are even virtual doctor visits and access to a 24-hour nurse hotline that can be purchased. Unlike the federal site, Florida Health Choices does not offer insurance or provide financial assistance to help customers afford its options.

The site's administrators are planning for a soft launch and won't actively market initially to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Boehner's Marco Island home

House Speaker John Boehner's purchase of a condo on Marco Island spawned media speculation he's headed toward retirement.

But the Ohio lawmaker told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he'll run for speaker again and that the condo "has nothing to do with my future."

"I think I'm in better shape with my own caucus than I have ever been in the last three years," said Boehner.

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

Thrasher plays down talk of job as FSU president 03/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 7:06pm]
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