To my friends and colleagues in the Republican caucus of the Florida House:Five years ago, I was given one of the greatest honors of my life when the voters of house district 34 elected me in a special election. Two and a half years later, my classmates in the class of 2008 chose me to serve as the leader of their class.
The faith and confidence of the voters, and the friendship and loyalty of our membership are things that I will never forget.As you have no doubt read or heard, I wound up on the down side of a thirty-seven vote deficit on Election Day. Yesterday, that deficit grew by eighty-six, so it does not appear that I will be a member of the Florida House any more. The deficit is small – around 123 votes out of 73,000+ cast, which is a deficit of .16%.While there will be recounts, I’ve been around long enough to know that they rarely result in a difference of meaningful numbers of votes. So while we will exercise our right to have these recounts, I do not anticipate that they will change the outcome of this race. That said, due to the extraordinarily close nature of the race, I believe it is worth the time and energy to undertake a further review of all ballots to make sure that everything went as we believe it did.I am extraordinarily proud of the work we have done over my five years in the legislature. Having reflected on my tenure there, I believe there are only two votes in five years that I really regret – the tobacco tax vote of 2009 and our decision to increase fees on Floridians that same year. The thousands of others were votes that I believe were in the best interest of the state, and would take them again without hesitation or reservation, regardless of consequence.I want to thank our speaker, Will Weatherford, and the other men that I have had the privilege of serving under in my tenure. Senator Marco Rubio is the future of the Republican Party, and I hope to visit his home on Pennsylvania Avenue some day. Speaker Larry Cretul was a man of quiet and steely resolve who would jokingly refer to himself as an accidental speaker, but make no mistake about it – his leadership was born of providence and carried us through a dark time in the house. Speaker Dean Cannon showed us what the house could do with discipline and strategy, and led us to unprecedented reform and change.Will Weatherford has allowed me to ride shotgun throughout the reapportionment process and then through our reelection cycle. That I will not be there on a daily basis to see the skills of such a great man; a true Christian conservative shape our state, is truly a regret of mine.The men that will likely come later, my dear friends Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva, have been refreshing examples of all that is right with government. If I was picking a team to go in to battle with, they would be top draft choices.I hope and pray that the members of the house will afford to my class, the class of 2008, the ability to elect a speaker from their own ranks. While I do not have a vote in that matter, I would vote for my friend Steve Crisafulli if I did. While he does not boast my good looks, I believe he has the perfect temperament and experience as a small businessman to guide the house with honor and integrity. From all that I have read and heard, things are progressing towards the caucus uniting around him, and I believe that happening would lead to the best possible environment for the Florida House to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.When I shared with my children that I would not be reelected, it was pretty obvious that they didn’t feel a pang of disappointment. My nine year old son, Christopher, had asked me a couple of weeks ago what I would have done as speaker Weatherford’s majority leader. I told him that I would help set the strategy for the house Republican caucus. He pointed out to me yesterday that now that I am no longer in the Florida House, I will have much more time to help set strategy for his basketball and football teams. Amen to that, Christopher. Amen to that.I am going to call all of you in the coming days to express my gratitude for your friendship and steadfast loyalty, often coming in the face of extreme scrutiny.I have been blessed to have the best staff a member could ask for, and I will miss working with great people like Sharon Spratt, Carolyn Johnson, Chris Sileo and Kathy Gilland. I’ve had the blessing of working with Senator Don Rubottom and Eric Miller in rulemaking and regulation, and Sanjay Thompson, who’s smiling face greeted me every day of committee weeks and session during the last two years in our suite.I hope that all of you find your time in Tallahassee worthy of the sacrifice of the time away from your family, your career and your profession. I will pray for Speaker Weatherford and for all of you on a daily basis because I understand how formidable the challenges that lay ahead, and how severe that the sacrifices you make, really are.The last thing you want or need is advice from me, but I’ll tell you this – what is right is not always what is popular and what is popular is not always right. The nature of legislative service is that you have been made a steward of our state’s government for a two-year period.I accept the results of this election because where it mattered – in the votes I took, in the bills I sponsored and in the legislation I steered as a committee chair – I held true to the principles that, at my core, govern my beliefs. I hope that when your legislative career ends, you feel the same way. In my case, the voters have spoken, and assuming the recount confirms the outcome, I respect what they have said.Thank you all, and may God Bless the state of Florida and the Florida House of Representatives.