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Quorum Call for Rules Chairman Gus Craig (D., St. Augustine)

Post #95, Bob McKnight's Florida Political Commentary

There are many experiences of a lifetime in public service, most very positive. Those that are not positive should be lessons for leadership. But, the lessons that are learned in the spirit of bi-partisanship are particularly memorable.

As outlined in my book, The Golden Years of the Florida Legislature, '70's and '80's, one that was most memorable was maybe the funniest. The lesson was when you are caught with the goods, admit it, use a sense of humor and try your best to succeed. Let me explain:

The 1975 Legislature was in Session. Speaker Don Tucker (for whom the Tallahassee Civic Center is named) was in the rostrum and the day's schedule of bills was being handled by the cagy and venerable Rules Chairman Gus Craig of St. Augustine. The pace was quick and not one I, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives was accustomed. The Chairman seemed to mumble the next bill, saying it had something to do with families, not a typical subject matter for Representative Craig (a favorite of the liquor interests, banks and insurance companies). A member took the floor on a point of personal privilege to ask the Rules Chairman to slow down and explain more completely the pending bill.

The silver haired Chairman had a red face, cleared his throat and went on to explain the bill being considered by the House would authorize children entry to parimutuel race tracks, a priority of the well heeled race tracks. Knowing that the bill would now become very controversial, the conservative and pro-family Chairman opted for a last ditch attempt to pass the bill against growing opposition exclaiming,

"Mr. Speaker, I believe that a family that gambles together, stays together. Move the bill Mr. Speaker."

The bill was overwhelmingly defeated. Lesson learned.


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