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Jeff Atwater says Charlie Crist chief of staff pledged governor would sign SB6

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The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that as the SB6 teacher-tenure bill was under debate on the House floor, Gov. Charlie Crist’s chief of staff told Senate President Jeff Atwater the governor was prepared to sign the bill, Atwater told reporters Friday.

Atwater said he was “perplexed” by Crist’s veto, citing a conversation he had with chief of staff Shane Strum the day the bill hit the House floor.

“To have the chief of staff express to me, a week ago Wednesday when it was on the House floor, that if you all get it to us by the weekend, we’re going to sign it — I don’t know how else to express to you that we’re under the assumption that the staff and governor are engaged,” Atwater said. “To learn after we send the bill to the governor on Friday, as asked, that there is a different conclusion, I’m just perplexed by that.”

The reaction from Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey: “The Chief of Staff has a different recollection of a brief conversation with the Senate President that occurred in an elevator while both were entering the Capitol one morning and we certainly respect his right to have a different opinion on the matter.”

Atwater also noted that Crist’s education commissioner, Eric Smith, worked “side by side” with legislators to craft the bill. Atwater, though, said he didn’t have a personal commitment from Crist that he would sign the bill — only from his top adviser.

“I never asked the governor whether he was going to sign the bill,” he said. “We were working with his staff.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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