Andy Gardiner Brings Leadership Experience and Political Skills to Senate Presidency
Around the State
Andy Gardiner will take over as the president of the Florida Senate in 2014 but his duties shouldn’t be too new or overwhelming since he has served in the leadership off and on during his years in Tallahassee.
Gardiner is only 44 so it’s easy to overlook the fact that he is a veteran of the Legislature. He was first elected to the Florida House in 2000 and served a full eight years before facing term limits and running for the Florida Senate.
Despite his agreement with Latvala, who is generally seen as the leading Republican moderate in the Legislature especially now that Mike Fasano is back in Pasco County, Gardiner has not been shy in playing up his conservative side on both fiscal and social issues. Gardiner has received awards and accolades from the pro-life community and business leaders for his various positions.
The Florida Senate has often seemed like a snake pit in recent years and more than a few Republican leaders have fallen in their attempts to lead the chamber. But with his background in leadership in both the House and the Senate and his ability to work with both conservatives and moderates in his caucus, Gardiner is well-positioned to manage the chamber.
Gardiner has a few other advantages as he prepares to take over the Senate. By the time he becomes Senate president, Gardiner should know all of his fellow senators well. None of them are term limited in 2014 and, so far, most of them can expect easy elections next year. Gardiner should face a host of familiar and mostly friendly faces when he takes over the Florida Senate.
Gardiner should not be underestimated. He survived an attack from the GOP Senate leadership and has spent years leading Republicans in the House and the Senate.
The Senate presidency is not always the best launching pad for higher office. Ander Crenshaw, Toni Jennings and Jeff Atwater advanced their careers after leading the Senate while the political careers of Mike Haridopolos and Tom Lee stalled after their time in charge of the chamber. Gardiner is relatively young but he sits on a crowded bench of other up-and-coming Republicans. A successful Senate presidency can help Gardiner move on as he weighs his options on what to do when he faces term limits.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.