Grading Senate President Don Gaetz' leadership assignments: not surprising, but interesting

in Uncategorized by

Senate President Don Gaetz named a handful of chairmen and leadership appointments for the full chamber on Monday. Gaetz tapped Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto as Senate Majority Leader, while Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon will serve as Republican whip.

No one can say they’re surprised by Gaetz’ leadership picks, but that doesn’t make them any less interesting. Here’s how Gaetz’ picks grade:

Benacquisto – Has long been the protected “little sister” in the Senate and was/is always well insulated. Further, with Jim Rimes, a staunch Gaetz/RPoF partisan, as her Staff Director, she will be in safe hands and will take direction well.  B-

Negron – Who else in the Senate has the wherewithal to handle appropriations? He did a fine job as Approps Chair under Speaker Allan Bense in the House and, as he is quick to tell you, possesses all the tools to repeat his excellent performance in the House.  A+

Latvala – Latvala’s knowledge and leadership are key to this selection, which serves an example of the promises Gaetz hinted at during his speech last week.  However, leading this committee doesn’t give Latvala as much access as he would like to the moneyed industries.  B 

Lee – Few in the Senate possess his knoweldge of the process, while commanding respect from both majority and minority Senators.  A

Thrasher– Is anyone surprised by this selection? He is Gaetz’ right-hand man and it’s only appropriate to put Thrasher in such a demanding and high priority leadership post. A

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.