Florida's Top Republican Helped a Democrat Get Elected


Post #81, Bob McKnight's Florida Political Commentary


It was really special when my Mentor, former Senate President Jerry Thomas, came up to me on the Senate Floor and said, "Congratulations Senator."



In my book, The Golden Years...The Florida Legislature, '70's and '80's. Reflections on Campaigns and Public Service (Sentry Press, 2007), I disclose the support and help I received from the highest ranking member of the Republican Party in 1974. The only problem is that I was running for a Democratic seat in the Florida House of Representatives at the time.


The Republican was their candidate for Governor, Jerry Thomas of Tequesta. I first met Senator Thomas when he was a Democrat and he had served in the Senate and House as a Democrat from Palm Beach County. My family lived in the Senator's district and my Dad mentioned to him my interest in running for office. Senator Thomas encouraged my Dad to have me run. In my first race for the legislature in 1972, I met periodically with the Senator and shared communications with him in support of my campaign. He seemed to develop a special interest in me and my campaign.


As it turned out, he lost his race in 1974 against his long time friend, FSU classmate, and Senate colleague, Democrat incumbent Governor Reubin Askew. But I won my race for the House of Representatives, also as a Democrat. Senator Thomas's help was very appreciated.


I cannot imagine a situation like that ever occurring today with the great political divide in our country. I can still recall today, Senator Thomas joining in on the floor of the Senate to congratulate me on my swearing in as a fellow member of the Florida Senate in 1978--beating two Senators, one a Republican colleague of Thomas.


Candidate over the Party, I guess.

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