300 years of Bi-Partisan Political Experience


Post # 159, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary


Having first served in Florida politics almost 50 years ago, I am often asked, "What happened to Senator so and so? Is he still alive? What happened to her?" Other than hearing from the House and Senate Offices confirming members passing, I somewhat rely on word of mouth. But, for those of us still alive and kicking, there is sure a lot of 'water that has gone under that Florida political dam? And within that water are a number of experienced minds still available to help offer advice and experiences to help govern Florida. I know, because I know them and served in office with them. And I might add, they proudly served both parties.


So, why in heaven's name would public policy makers today not draw on that trove of valuable experience to help them make fully informed and independent decision, based on actual experiences? Is it possible that a similar challenge was not faced in Florida over the last 50 years? Even our youngest Floridians have heard the admonishment, "If we do not learn about our mistakes from history, aren't we are prone to make the same mistakes again and again?" The answer is yes.


So here are just a random selection of 10 great Bi-Partisan minds of Florida politics who can still contribute to sound public policy, if only our elected representatives would ask of them.

I estimate that these political giants have over 300 years of cumulative experience with some of Florida's greatest issues and problems. I think they would be glad to help any Republican or Democrat asking for their counsel.


  • Former Education Commissioner Betty Castor (D.)

  • Former U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R.)

  • Former Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford (R.)

  • Former Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter (D.)

  • Former Secretary of State Bruce Smathers (D.)

  • Former Comptroller Gerald Lewis (D.)

  • Former Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher (R.)

  • Former Attorney General Bob Butterworth (D.)

  • Former Secretary of State Jim Smith (R.)

  • Former U.S. Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R.)


All of these great Floridians have served at the highest levels of public service. But most have also served at the local level in Florida--from local government to the Florida Legislature, so their breadth of experiences are significant. I can think of landmark decisions made by most of benefit to our great state.


After all, as our grade schoolers would say, "If we don't learn about our mistakes from our history, we are prone to make the same mistakes over and over again."






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