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Bill Galvano's Star Rises in the Florida Senate

December 4, 2014 - 6:00pm

The Florida Senate has been something of a minefield for Republicans in recent years with protracted leadership fights and moderates often sinking or watering down legislation that easily cleared the House. But hope is on the horizon in the form of Bill Galvano.

Now the Senate majority leader, Galvano has earned rave reviews since being elected to the Senate in 2012. Galvano first came to Tallahassee in 2002 as a member of the House. While he hoped to be speaker, Galvano came up short. Despite that, he ended up as part of the House leadership, heading up the Rules Committee in his last term. After leaving the House due to term limits in 2010, Galvano quickly shifted gears to run for the Senate and won a seat easily two years later.

In his first two years in the Senate, Galvano was put in charge of redistricting after a Tallahassee judge ruled the maps violated the Fair Districts Amendments. Galvano efficiently and effectively helped guide the new maps through the Senate during a special session back in August. What could have been a major disaster for Republicans during election season turned into a yawner and the new maps were approved by the judge. Galvano has to get some of the credit for that.

With Jack Latvala and Joe Negron locked in a seemingly endless struggle to see who becomes president after the 2016 elections, Andy Gardiner turned to Galvano last month to join Lizbeth Benacquisto in leading the GOPs Senate campaign efforts, which are normally the duties of the president-designate. That will only boost Galvanos stock as he looks to become Senate president himself after the 2018 elections.

The Senate has posed problems for its leadership in recent years. Mike Haridopolos struggled to control the chamber and that helped sink his bid to take on Bill Nelson. Don Gaetzs and John Thrashers unsuccessful efforts to knife Gardiner didnt help matters. Neither has the continuing battle between Latvala and Negron.

Despite this often poisonous atmosphere, Galvano has been something of a uniting figure which has certainly helped his chances to be president. Back in 2013, Galvano started gathering pledges to become Senate president in 2018 and his stock has only continued to go up through this year, especially with his leadership on redistricting. With his hands now firmly on the campaign and fundraising wheel, Galvano should be able to make the most of his opportunity. While he didnt ever clutch the gavel in the House, Galvano is increasingly looking like a good bet to lead the Senate.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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