Weatherford calls for unity, Whitten prays as Florida House organizes
Nov 21, 2012

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“Lord, would you give these men and women courage to govern unselfishly, love to promote unity, and insight to act resourcefully for the good of all Florida citizens,” he prayed.

Ken Whitten (left) was asked to offer the invocation for the Nov. 20 organizational session by new Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, a member of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz where Whitten is pastor. Photo by Florida House of Representatives
Whitten, who is chairman of the Florida Baptist Witness board of directors, prayed that Florida’s motto would be the well-known quote of early church father Saint Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”

“That is our prayer as we ask it for Florida’s good and Your glory, and we pray it in the strong name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names, our Savior and our Lord,” he concluded.

Weatherford will lead a chamber that has been altered not only by term limits but by newly drawn political districts that appear, at least at first blush, to have more evenly distributed political power in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans while the GOP holds undeniable supremacy in state government. The governor's office, all three Cabinet spots and both chambers of the Legislature are in GOP control.

The House welcomed 44 new members, including the largest class of Democrats the chamber has seen in decades. In the most recent Legislature, Republicans held an 81-39 super-majority, one more than the two-thirds margin needed to lock down most votes. The new 76-44 majority, though still commanding, will require more compromise and consensus.

During speeches Nov. 20, Democrats sent a pair of messages. Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, said the Democratic gains earlier this month point to the fact that the minority party deserves a better seat at the table regardless of the lopsided numbers in the chamber.

And citing recently defeated constitutional amendments and trouble at the election polls, Waldman said Democrats will be more vocal on issues they believe to be unconstitutional or being pushed by Republicans for political gain.

Incoming Democratic leader Perry Thurston echoed Weatherford, though, and said Democrats are also willing to compromise on some issues.

“The election is over, and we have enormous challenges ahead of us,” Thurston said. “Now, it is incumbent on each of us who serves in the Legislature to get to work, and not to wait. This, I believe, is a message sent to us by the voters.”

Related Coverage:

2013 Legislative Session

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