News Anchor Deborah Gianoulis Jumps in Race Against Thrasher

Longtime fixture of Jacksonville television takes RPOF chair on over SB 6
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 16, 2010 12:05 AM

Emmy award-winning journalist Deborah Gianoulis, a fixture on Jacksonville television as an evening news anchor for almost 25 years, announced Tuesday that she was running as a Democrat against Sen. John Thrasher of Jacksonville, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Thrasher’s district stretches from Nassau County, through Jacksonville and Duval County, and includes parts of St. Johns and Flagler counties before ending in Volusia County. 

Winning both Emmy awards and a Peabody award during her career, Gianoulis was the co-anchor of WJXT’s evening newscast. Since 2004, she has served as chairwoman of Save Duval Schools, an educational advocacy group.

Through Save Duval Schools, Gianoulis opposed SB 6, a bill to reform teacher performance pay that was sponsored in the Legislature by Thrasher. She hinted in her announcement that she was going to make Thrasher’s advocacy of the measure, which was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist, an issue in her challenge to the Republican.

“In recent years, the Florida Legislature has unfairly targeted teachers, parents, and local school districts rather than take responsibility for providing high-quality education,” said Gianoulis. “As a senator, I will fight to ensure that our children are well-educated and that businesses have the well-trained employees required to grow and diversify the economy.”

Despite running as a Democrat, Gianoulis is claiming the mantle of the late Jim King, a long-time Jacksonville Republican leader who served as Senate president.

“I greatly admired the late Sen. Jim King for his commitment to doing right for the citizens of his district and Florida without regard for partisanship,” said Gianoulis. “As a candidate, and a senator, if elected, I will strive to follow Sen. King’s example of leadership and statesmanship. I will listen to citizens rather than to special interests.”

Gianoulis announced her candidacy Tuesday afternoon, after a morning event where Thrasher kicked off his re-election bid at a fund-raiser with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Jacksonville. Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC endorsed Thrasher on Monday.

“I am happy to be here today with John to offer my endorsement of his re-election campaign for Florida Senate,” said Romney, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and is widely expected to try again in 2012. “John Thrasher has proven that he is a principled leader with strong conservative values. Florida needs leaders in the Legislature right now, like John, who will get the economy moving again and are committed to keeping taxes low and fostering a pro-business environment.”

“If re-elected to the Florida Senate, I will remain dedicated to affecting positive change for northeast Florida and will continue to lead with strong Republican principles and ensure that our district remains one of the strongest in our state,” said Thrasher, who had backed Romney’s presidential bid in 2008.

Thrashed received other support on Tuesday -- being named the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s “Most Valuable Legislator” for 2010. 

“It is an honor to receive the Most Valuable Legislator award from the Florida chamber,” said Thrasher, who is only the second senator to ever win the award. “I am proud of the work we have done this year to create jobs and continue positioning Florida as a strong competitor in the global economy, and I will keep fighting for the business community in the years to come.”

The chamber praised Thrasher for his efforts leading the fight for SB 6, a measure to reform teacher performance pay, as well as his advocacy for legal reform.

“Despite strong opposition from union leaders, Senator Thrasher remained steadfast in his commitment to innovative education reforms,” wrote the chamber. “His dedication to common-sense government paid dividends during this year’s session – Governor Crist signed an important Florida chamber-backed bill sponsored by Senator Thrasher that provides for greater transparency and accountability in state contracts with private attorneys and limits plaintiff trial-lawyers’ profit to $50 million.”

Thrasher, who served as House speaker, won the Senate seat after a special election in 2009. Besides Gianoulis, Thrasher is facing a Republican primary challenge from dermatologist Charles Perniciaro, a critic of SB 6 who had been a registered Democrat until April 30.

Reach Kevin Derby at  or at (850) 727-0859

Comments (4)

fed up
4:05PM AUG 25TH 2010
It's really scary that this guy is still elected after trying to ram Senate Bill 6 down the throats of Florida citizens. Worse yet, he used the mantra "it will get rid of bad teachers." Meanwhile it's ok to take the limited funds of public schools and use them for vouchers to private schools. Thank God the Florida Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional-for now. And how can we forget, he said higher degrees for teachers shouldn't mean they should earn more money.
Gary Gnu
9:44PM JUN 16TH 2010
Those TV anchors...they just can't fade away into the sunset...can they?
It's some kind of personality disorder that they have to be in the limelight.
I guess the save the schools campaign didn't have enough cameras showing up to it for her ego...
Smartest guy in the room
12:59PM SEP 21ST 2010
You are pathetic. She has done a lot for North Florida. Her opposing Bill 6 should be enough to turn any Conservative toward her campaign. Aren't they supposed to care about families? Surprise, it's the Democrats looking out for us! Thrasher is against families and education and he is FOR lobbyists and Corporate sponsors, end of story.
10:52AM JUN 16TH 2010
Glad to hear that someone with an eye to the needs of the public will be opposing Mr. Thrasher. He ramrodded the bill that in effect would have placed teachers in jeporady if they were unfortunate enough to have a group of disruptive,unwilling students. If the teacher sends them to the office the teacher looks bad. If the student is allowed to remain the antics robs the other students of the opportunity to learn. His efforts would have been better placed toward punitive action against the parents of these students but I am sure he considered their vote if he rocked their boat and required some parenting.

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